What is Environmental Engineering?

Environmental engineering refers to the use of scientific processes to help improve the Earth’s environment to provide healthier land, water and air for human use and to find ways to scale back on pollution sites. It uses the principles of biology and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. The goal of environmental engineering is to integrate scientific and engineering principles to minimize air pollution and waste discharge from industries, clean up polluted sites, set up appropriate mechanism for waste disposal resulting from human activity and study the impact of proposed construction sites on environment.

Apart from this, environmental engineering promotes energy conservation and is also concerned with finding solutions in areas of public health such as implementing adequate sanitation facilities.

Topics involving environmental engineering include waste management, water supply, waste water treatment, air pollution, recycling, and disposal of wastes, protection from radiation, public health, environmental engineering law, and the effects of man-made projects on the environment.


Who are Environmental Engineers and What They do

Environmental engineers are specialists who study and perform environmental engineering. To this end, they take doctrines of engineering, science, biology and chemistry to formulate solutions to public health issues and environmental problems. Essentially, they study the effects technology has on the environment. They must also be leaders in protecting the future of the environment from climate change and availability of resources, dealing with toxic wastes, helping oceanic areas recover from oil spills, developing new methods of recycling, monitoring air pollution levels, protecting wildlife from environmental hazards, and to eliminate solid, hazardous, and radioactive wastes and contamination of the environment.

Environmental engineers also conduct research on waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of hazard, advise on its treatment and develop regulations to prevent or mitigate mishaps. They also address local and global environmental issues such as climate change, global warming, waste management, acid rain, improving recycling, raising pollution levels, ozone depletion, deforestation and landfills.

Environmental engineers often work very closely with the EPA to diagnose problems with current policies and legislation as it relates to the environment on both national and local levels. One of the goal of EPA is to protect air, water and soil quality to mitigate the consequences of harmful effects on humans, plants and animals.

The two major areas of interest of environmental engineers include enhancing the availability of high quality water supplies and investigate the fate and transport of contaminants and their by-products emerging from air, water and soil.

Since 2012, the annual pay of environmental engineers has been approximately $80,000, according the Bureau of Labor. Environmental engineering also one of the fastest growing areas of engineering, with a rapidly accelerating growth employment rate. It is an excellent career opportunity to look into.

Scope of Environmental Engineering

The scope of environmental engineering is actually larger than one might think and largely deals with the topics that were listed above. It is broad and scope and deals with major issues such as the treatment of water and air pollution to smaller but still completely relevant issues like recycling everyday items and storing solid wastes in landfills.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is the primary agency that works with environmental engineers to evaluate on these topics.

  • Environment Impact and Mitigation

Engineers and scientists apply scientific and engineering principles to evaluate if there are likely to be an adverse impact on water, air, soil, land quality, flora and fauna, ecological impact, noise impact or visual impact. The overall goal of environmental engineers is to identify, assess and evaluate the environmental impacts of man made plans, projects and laws to see if there are any affects whatsoever on water, air, habitat, agriculture, plants and animals, and the ecosystem. In this sense, environmental engineering encompasses the protection of human health and preserving the natural environment using scientific and engineering processes.

  • Solid Waste Management

Solid waste management deals with solid waste materials produced by human activity, whether straightforwardly or obliquely. Solid waste management also focuses on the recovery of resources to delay the human consumption of natural resources. Different methods are used to limit the harmful solids that are released into the environment. The objective of solid waste management is to reduce the harmful effects of solid, liquid or gaseous substances on the environment.

Solid waste management also encompasses reuse and recycling of everyday materials, the minimization of waste, the storage and transfer of wastes, disposing of solid wastes at landfills, and policies and regulations regarding the above.

  • Water Supply and Treatment

Environmental engineers work to portable and agricultural use. It is their job to assess water within a water basin and determine supply of available water, the cycles of water movement throughout the seasons, and the treatment of water for various uses. This is done to severely minimize the risk of diseases that can be caught from the drinking and/or contact of water. This is why water distribution systems are built to meet irrigation standards for civilian use.

  • Water Pollution

Water pollution is closely tied to water supply and treatment. It essentially deals with the waste put into water from sewer systems, outhouses and septics in both rural and urban areas. Environmental engineers design specific systems to carry the polluted water away from civilized areas and release the waste into the environment, most often into the ocean, and in more landlocked areas, rivers and lakes.

  • Air Pollution Management

Environmental engineers design manufacturing and combustion processes to ensure the air pollutants are at acceptable levels in the atmosphere where the toxins can have minimal effects on people. These include emissions from automobile exhausts, No2, So2, organic compounds, and organic acids.

Environmental engineers work variety of environments because of the nature of tasks. The employment of environment engineers is expected to grow from 15% to 22% by 2022. Apart from social and ecological impact, environmental engineers are also involved in protection of wildlife. They also work as consultants and provide their services to clients to protect our environment from various environmental hazards, and clean up hazardous sites.

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Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.