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Synonyms: Sanitary inspector; sanitation inspector; sanitation supervisor; environmental technician; pollution-control technician (DOT). Also: public-health inspector; environmental-health inspector; environmental-quality inspector; environmental technician/engineering aid; registered/certified sanitarian

Job profile

Definition and/or description


Plans, develops and executes environmental health programme; organizes and conducts training programme in environmental health practices for schools and other groups; determines and sets health and sanitation standards and enforces regulations concerned with food processing and serving, collection and disposal of solid wastes, sewage treatment and disposal, plumbing, vector control, recreational areas, hospitals and other institutions, noise, ventilation, air pollution, radiation and other areas; confers with government, community, industrial, civil defence and private organizations to interpret and promote environmental health programmes; collaborates with other health personnel in epidemiological investigations and control. Advises civic and other officials in development of environmental health laws and regulations (DOT).

Related and specific occupations


Sanitary engineer; public-health engineer; environmental engineer; food and drug inspector; exterminator; mosquito sprayer (DOT).



Analysing; assembling and installing; burning (of garbage, etc.); calculating; catching (insects, rodents, etc.); checking; constructing; controlling; designing; determining (quantities, treatment techniques, etc.); developing; digging; disinfecting; disposing; disseminating (information); distributing (information or training material); driving; educating; enforcing; estimating (quantities); eradicating (pests); evaluating; examining; executing; exterminating; guiding; handling; improving (control techniques, etc.); inspecting; investigating; measuring; operating; planning; preventing; questioning; reporting; sampl- ing; sanitizing; spraying; supervising; surveying; testing; transferring; warning; witnessing.

Auxiliary tasks

Administering; advising; answering; applying; assisting; collaborating; collecting; compiling; computing; coordinating; discussing; filing; fixing; initiating; instructing; interpreting; lecturing; negotiating; organizing; participating (in committees, programmes, etc.); promoting; reviewing; scheduling; standardizing; teaching; training; writing.


Accident hazards


– Slips, trips and falls from ladders, stairs, elevated platforms, etc., during field visits of plants and throughout inspection operations;

– Falls into open pits and manholes while inspecting water and sewage systems;

– Acute poisoning by gases (e.g., sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide) during inspection and cleaning of sewage systems;

– Acute poisoning resulting from operation and handling of drinking water and swimming-pool chlorination and bromination equipment and containers;

– Acute poisoning caused by use of various pesticides (see Appendix) throughout pest control/extermination operations;

– Burns resulting from garbage-burning operations and from operating incinerators;

– Relatively high risk of being involved in road accidents as a result of extensive and frequent driving on badly kept roads and off-roads;

– Electrical shock resulting from work with mechanized and electrical field equipment;

– Fires and explosions caused by flammable and explosive substances (e.g., solvents, gasoline, etc.).

Physical hazards


– Exposure to excessive noise (relevant for sanitarians engaged in industrial hygiene, heating and ventilation systems and in inspection of “noisy” industries such as the heavy industries, the textile industry and printing);

– Exposure to ionizing radiation (relevant for sanitarians engaged in control and supervision of radioisotope usage, x-ray equipment and radioactive wastes);

– Exposure to non-ionizing radiation (e.g., in water sterilization by UV);

– Exposure to extreme climatic conditions while working in the field.

Chemical hazards


– Chronic poisoning as a result of exposure to various toxic materials, such as pesticides (including insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides, fungicides, algicides, nematocides, etc.), their vapours and aerosols throughout extermination operations or disposal of containers with toxic pesticide residues;

– Contact with strong oxidants, especially chlorine compounds used for disinfection of drinking water and swimming pools;

– Toxic gases present in sewage systems or in industrial plants with inadequate ventilation systems;

– Dermatites and eczemas resulting from contact with various oils and solvents used for pest control, garbage- burning operations or other chemicals commonly used in sanitary laboratories.

Biological hazards


– Exposure to various micro-organisms while working with liquid or solid wastes;

– Bites and stings by various insects (e.g., bees, flies, fleas, ticks, mites, mosquitoes and wasps), snakes, scorpions, rodents, etc., during field and laboratory work;

– Risk of contracting infectious diseases while working in hospitals.

Ergonomic and social factors


– Physical and/or verbal assault while carrying out sanitary inspections of buildings, businesses, shops, etc.

– Attempts of those subjected to inspection to file unwarranted complaints which result in psychological stress, nervousness, etc.



Freedman, B. 1977. Sanitarian’s Handbook, 4th edition. New Orleans, LA: Peerless Publishing Co.

Last, JM and RB Wallace (eds.). 1992. Maxcy-Rosenau-Last Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 13th edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Tchobanoglous, G and FL Burton. 1991. Metcalf & Eddy Wastewater Engineering—Treatment, Disposal, and Reuse, 3rd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.


Principal chemicals to which sanitarians may be exposed:

– Acids

– Activated carbon

– Alcohols

– Aldrin

– Allethrin


– Asbestos

– Benzene hexachloride

– Bichloride of mercury

– Borax

– Boric acid

– Bromine

– Cadaverine

– Calcium cyanide

– Calcium hypochlorite

– Carbamates

– Carbolic acid

– Carbon monoxide

– Carbon disulphide

– Chloramines

– Chlordane

– Chlorinated hydrocarbons

– Chlorine

– Chlorine dioxide

– Copper sulfate

– Cresol

– Crude oil

– Cyanides



– Detergents

– Diatomaceous earth

– Diazinon

– Dieldrin

– Diesel oil

– Dioxin

– Dipterex

– Disinfectants

– Fluorides

– Fluorine

– Formaldehyde

– Fuel oils

– Fumigants

– Fungicides

– Heptachlor

– Herbicides

– Hexametaphosphate

– Hydrocyanic acid

– Hydrofluoric acid

– Hydrogen sulphide

– Indol

– Iodine

– Kerosene

– Larvicides

– Lime

– Lindane

– Malathion

– Methoxychlor

– Mineral acids

– Nitrates

– Nitric acid

– Organic acids

– Organic phosphates (polyphosphates)

– Orthotolidine

– Ozone

– Parathion

– Pesticides

– Phenol

– Pine oil

– Pival

– Potassium permanganate

– Pyrethrum

– Quaternary ammonium compounds

– Rodenticides

– Skatole

– Soaps

– Sulphur dioxide

– Sulphuric acid

– Warfarin

– Xylene

– Zeolites



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