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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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New bachelor's degree in environmental and occupational health

The Department of Health Science at New Mexico State University will begin a new bachelor's degree program in environmental and occupational health (EOH) in the fall of 2000.

Stephen Arnold, head of the health sciences department in NMSU's College of Health and Social Services, said a shortage of qualified EOH professionals has created career opportunities nationwide in the public and private sectors. Graduates of the EOH bachelor of science degree program will be qualified to find employment in most areas of environmental health, occupational health and public health. Environmental and occupational health professionals include sanitarians and others who are concerned with the public's health in areas such as air, water, sewage, waste, environmental protection, shelter, occupational health and food safety.

"Most employers, unless they already have experience in this area, are really out on a limb without the services of an environmental and occupational health professional," Arnold said.

Arnold said environmental and occupational health professionals evaluate how work place and public environments affect human health, as opposed to environmental science professionals who evaluate ecological factors.

Public sector environmental and occupational health professionals -- like those who work for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- develop and enforce policies and laws to protect target populations. In the private sector, EOH professionals work to minimize the hazards generated by the industry or with related contractors like consulting and insurance companies.

Nationwide, there are only 23 EOH accredited university programs. NMSU's program will be the first in the Southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Arnold said the health and social services college expects 40-60 students to major in environmental and occupational health. No additional faculty or staff will be hired to administer the program because all EOH courses are currently offered by the university.

"We're just repackaging some of the courses that are already offered by the university," Arnold said. "To me, that shows that New Mexico State University already has a lot to offer."

For more information about the environmental and occupational health bachelor's degree program, call NMSU's College of Health and Social Services at (505) 646-3526 or Arnold at the health science department at (505) 646-4300.