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OHLA @ 10 Years: Environmental Health
Improving health and environment through professional standards
Food inspection
From inspecting restaurants and public pools to preventing and responding to outbreaks of infectious disease, environmental health professionals play a key role in protecting public health and the environment.
 
With public health and the environment at stake, the role the Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA) and the Environmental Health Registration Board play is crucial to ensuring environmental health professionals are qualified to address often complex environmental and public health issues.
 
“Public health” and “the environment” are wide-ranging terms in a profession increasingly known for specialization, but the general ability to think scientifically is an important aspect of the qualifications required to become registered in Oregon.
 
Applicants are required to obtain a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with 45-quarter hours of science coursework combined with at least two years of supervised experience in the field, or a combination of less coursework and more experience, or more education and less experience.
 
With different routes to qualify for registration and a lack of standardization among college and university science courses, the qualifying application process for environmental health specialists can sometimes be challenging due to the different variables involved.
 
OHLA and the Environmental Health Registration Board continue to review how to streamline the process for applicants while ensuring they are qualified to perform effectively in the environmental health field.

Central Issues in Environmental Health
Ellen Laymon
Ellen Laymon, Environmental Health Board 2009 Chair
  • Streamlining Qualification Process:  OHLA and the Environmental Health Registration Board are exploring how to streamline a qualification process that often requires careful and time-consuming review of disparate pieces of education and experience without any standardization.

  • Building Professional Relationships:   OHLA and the Environmental Health Registration Board are building on existing partnerships within the environmental health field to better understand issues in the profession and add more value to the regulatory experience.

  • Looking at Profession’s Future:  OHLA and the Environmental Health Registration Board are initiating a broader look at the profession to explore how to most effectively address issues ranging from potential shortages of environmental health specialists to emerging priority areas of professional focus.

Regulatory Timeline
1967
The Oregon State Legislature establishes registration program for sanitarians and a Department of Sanitarians within the State Board of Health.
 
1971
The Sanitarians Registration Board replaces the Department of Sanitarians.
 
1995
Certain administrative duties, functions and powers of the Sanitarians Registration Board are transferred to the Health Division.
 
1997
The Legislature grants employees of the Department of Environmental Quality an exemption from registration, with the exception of employees of the on-site waste water program.
 
1999
OHLA and the Environmental Health Registration Board adopt a position statement on understanding and cooperation between the engineering and environmental health professions.
 
2006
OHLA and the Environmental Health Registration Board adopt position statements to clarify existing regulations of new onsite residential septic system evaluations and to adopt Department of Environmental Quality standards for time-of-transfer evaluations for ATT septic systems.