Author Interview with Herman Koren

Read our exclusive interview with Herman Koren, author of Best Practices for Environmental Health: Environmental Pollution, Protection, Quality and Sustainability, and learn more about his latest release, and what he has planned for the future. 

Best Practices for Environmental Health: Environmental Pollution, Protection, Quality and Sustainability is the product of 15 years of thinking about how we waste time and energy by not capturing and utilizing the best of our operating programs in environmental health, environmental science, occupational health and public health globally, past and present, and therefore having to do this work over and over again. This book, my 20th, is the product of five years of research and writing including the review of thousands of documents containing the work of environmental health and science as well as occupational health and safety practitioners, my 62 years of experience in the field, much of it as a practitioner, my unusual research and writing career and most of all my career involving the teaching of young people to become professionals in the environmental, safety and public health fields.

This book is excellent for environmental health students, environmental science and protection students, public health students, industrial hygiene, health and safety students and professionals in all these areas, since it covers all areas of environmental concerns and environmental programs, their interrelationship, statements of the problem and best practices which have been utilized in actual practice by a large number of professionals. It also is extremely useful for all citizens of the world and the various citizens’ environmental organizations since it can be easily used to increase environmental literacy and allow people to make better decisions about what is best for their communities. The readership is worldwide and the book should be useful for at least 30 to 50 years.

Bachelor of arts Temple University 1955 Chemistry and Biology Major; Master of Public Health-University of Michigan School of Public Health-Major Environmental Health-1959; Dr. of Health and Safety-Indiana University-1992-Major Environmental Health, Minor Curriculum Environmental Economics; Prof. Emeritus Environmental Health and Safety Indiana State University 1967-1995-Founder and Director of Bachelor of Science Degree Program in Environmental Health Science; Founder and Director of the Paid Environmental Health Internship Program Placing 1150 Students in 28 States and 70 Different Health Areas, Governmental and Industry-Founder and Director of the National Student National Environmental Health Association and Indiana State University Alpha Chapter of the Student National Environmental Health Association-Founder and Director of the Supervision and Management Program for Professionals.

Best Practices for Environmental Health: Environmental Pollution, Protection, Quality and Sustainability Is of Extreme Importance in Our Society Today Because of the Assault on the Environment, Air, Water, Land, Hazardous Materials and Chemicals, Global Warming, and Health by the Current Administration in the United States. The Information Used to Attempt to Destroy and actually destroy existing regulations in the environment, environmental health, occupational health, public health is totally inaccurate, science is being disregarded and politics are in charge. This book is totally accurate and as I have said is based on my 62 years of experience in the field which have been recognized by my peers With the Walter S Mangold Award, the highest in the United States, and being selected to be a Diplomate Laureate of the American Academy of Sanitarians, Only the Number Seven of Eight Worldwide. This book is based also on my review of thousands of peer-reviewed documents and therefore is extremely accurate. To make sure that this was so, Taylor and Francis hired an independent copy editor of distinction to evaluate every word and reference within the over 300,000 word manuscript. She challenged me repeatedly to justify what I was saying and to make sure the references were proper. It is because of this accuracy and because the book covers the entire environment and the interrelationship between different environmental media that citizens, various environmental groups globally, the news media, governmental agencies and all other interested parties can use the material in this book to refute the actions that are being taken based on politics and not science.

Since I had 11 years of comprehensive experience as a field practitioner (I added 25 more years as the field supervisor of the 1150 interns) in the rural setting, a field practitioner in an urban setting, a district environmental health supervisor of 250,000 people for all programs at age 26, an administrator at a 2000 bed hospital at age 30, as Chief of Environmental Health and Safety As Well as head of the hospital infection program, when I was asked to come to Indiana state University in 1967, I asked for full control over all aspects of the program which I was creating which led to the graduation of 500 men and women with Bachelor of Science Degrees in environmental health science plus at least seven months of environmental health internship experience in two separate internships. When I taught, I used an extremely large number of practical examples of work in the field rather than teaching from the textbook, which in fact I had written. I also taught these young people how to become professionals in every way possible and how to have a decent career and a good life. I’ve had graduates call me recently to thank me for the grounding that I gave them not only in the field of environmental health and public health but also in life itself.

Herman Koren, HSD, MPH, DLAAS, REHS is Professor Emeritus of Health and Safety, former Coordinator Environmental Health Science Program, which he founded in 1967, former Director Supervision and Management Program I and II for continuing education, which he founded in 1980, former Coordinator Environmental Health Internship Program, which he founded in 1969, at Indiana State University at Terre Haute. He is currently the for the series “Best Practices in Public Health”.

In the Spring of 1955, I took an examination for a job with the Pennsylvania State Health Department for a position known as a Sanitarian. Because of my Bachelor of Arts Degree from Temple University in Biology and Chemistry, with considerable coursework in Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, I came in very high on the list of candidates for the position. I went to work in September 1955, for the Pennsylvania State Health Department in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia Suburb. At that time the field offices were staffed by political appointees and I was one of the first college graduates to work in the field. After six months of a somewhat interesting but limited experience, I was sent to the Pittsburgh Field Training Center of the United States Public Health Service for a 40 hour a week, nine week training course conducted by professional sanitary engineers. The director of the program was Captain (naval rank) Carlyle Roberts. During the first day I became so enchanted with environmental health and public health that I never left his side for the nine solid weeks during coffee breaks and lunch breaks. Every night I studied as hard as I could and the totality of the information provided to me stayed with me for the rest of my life. I have been associated with the United States Public Health Service during all of my 63 years as a field practitioner, researcher, writer and teacher.

The rest is history.

All of my books have been based on my experiences as a practitioner and as a generalist. The experience as a District Environmental Health Supervisor is part of a continuum of experience that I’ve had my entire life being taught by practitioners, being a practitioner, teaching future practitioners and supervising their activities as paid interns. 

I became a practitioner in 1955 in rural areas and then in 1956 in urban areas. In March 1956, I was taught by the practitioner, a highly experienced sanitary engineer, captain (naval rank) Carlyle Roberts, United States Public Health Service (as explained above in 1) the practice of environmental health during 360 hours of instruction. I came in number one in the final test given to a class of 30 people.

From 1956-1958, while working for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, I attended nine different short courses ranging from 3 to 5 days or 24 hours-40 hours, in all areas of the environment. The entire field staff, of 60 people and nine supervisors were tested after taking this multitude of courses and even though I was a field sanitarian at that time, I ranked higher than all other field personnel and eight of the supervisors.

From 1958-1959, I was sent by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on a Fellowship to the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Environmental Health Department to gain the necessary knowledge to be awarded the professional degree of Master of Public Health. My professors at the University of Michigan were mostly highly experienced sanitary engineers, who were also reserve officers in the United States Public Health Service. They were extremely competent practitioners and taught us the practice of environmental and public health.

When I became a District Environmental Health Supervisor, at age 26, the youngest district supervisor of any department ever in the city of Philadelphia up to that time, I was now responsible for a large staff of personnel and basically all environmental health programs discussed in the Table of Contents of Best Practices for Environmental Health, Environmental Pollution, Protection, Quality and Sustainability.

The practical experiences that I had ranged from a number of outbreaks of foodborne disease, waterborne disease, institutionally acquired infections, rat bites on children, severe problems of the built environment, condemnation of hundreds of thousands of pounds of contaminated food, sewage problems, solid and hazardous waste disposal, to illegal nursing homes and on and on. All of these situations were compounded by poverty, severe overcrowding of residential structures, and a lack of a structure to help the community help itself.

I developed a unique Community Rodent Control Program for a 60 city block area, where we killed 30,000 rats and removed 2 million pounds of garbage trash and junk because of the voluntary efforts of the community with the assistance of city agencies and civic associations. This was followed by the city utilizing the big Philadelphia Transportation Company city buses that were turned into mobile clinics and the block leaders who worked on the Community Rodent Control Program urged the citizens to bring the children down to the mobile clinics to get their inoculations for various diseases, resulting in the city giving out 50,000 free shots over a three day period.

I also attended six more 3-5 day special training sessions by the United States Public Health Service.

The next four years I spent at Philadelphia General Hospital As the Chief of Environmental Health, Safety, and I was responsible for infection control activitie.. Although, I had all these years of previous experience as a practitioner, my Master of Public Health Degree and had received four Outstanding ratings for my work as a District Environmental Health Supervisor, I sat at the feet of the Chiefs of surgery and medicine of all five medical schools that practiced at Philadelphia General Hospital to learn everything I could about hospital infection control. In addition, in 1964, I read over 1000 articles in English on hospital infection control from the most recent Index Medicus. Then I was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a two week training course times 40 hours a week in hospital infection control. During my time at Philadelphia general I was given the opportunity to develop many unique techniques for the environment and infection control and to test them to make sure that they worked. I received four outstanding ratings for my work at Philadelphia General Hospital.

I taught at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Department of Preventive Medicine. My students were third-year medical students who were learning how to prevent infections in hospitals.

When I went to Indiana State University, I was given the opportunity to once again develop unique programs: Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Health Science +7 months of paid internship experience; Environmental Health Paid Internship Program for the entire country on a US Public Health Service grant; Supervision and Management Program for Working Professionals; etc.

I furthered my huge amount of practical experience and learning by obtaining paid internships for 1100 interns over a 25 year period in 28 different states and 70 different programs in government and industry. I supervised the students by actually going in the field and traveling to their internship sites. I spent 15 weeks every summer traveling for all 25 years. I amassed a huge amount of practical experience in every aspect of environmental health and public health.

As can be seen my books differ substantially from others because of this huge amount of experience and large amount of research filtered through this experience, as a generalist, as can be seen in the Table of Contents of the Best Practices Book.

Up to 1970, The United States Public Health Service was responsible for most environmental health activities at the federal level, but there was also a smattering of environmental programs throughout the federal government. Unfortunately, budgeting powers do not recognize the significance of preventive medicine and environmental health is preventive medicine plus the determination of existing problems and the resolutions to them. As a result, funding was highly inadequate. In 1970, there was a huge push to bring together all of the programs under a new agency, the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The programs were initiated by direction of the president of the United States and the Congress passed numerous laws or updated others. The Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service was ordered by the president to utilize whatever resources and people were necessary to set up this new agency. The good thing was that the public was now involved deeply in environmental issues. The bad thing was that the Environmental Protection Agency and similar state agencies were now separated from public health and there was a lack of coordination between the environmental people in both areas. It is very important to understand that environmental health and environmental pollution, protection, quality and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. The environmental health practitioners protect the health and safety of people while also protecting the environment. The environmental pollution, protection, quality and sustainability practitioners protect the environment while also protecting the health and safety of people.

Currently in the United States there is a deplorable political movement that denies science and abhors anything that is good for people, supposedly to advance the economy. The idea of doing away with two regulations for every new regulation is nothing but absolute nonsense and is not scientifically sound. The reason for regulations is to protect the health and safety of people as well as the natural environment for future generations. The whole denial of global warming is ridiculous, since we see the effects of global warming all the time in melting polar caps, rising oceans, severe hurricanes and droughts. Up until this most recent development in the last few years, we have made enormous gains in protecting people and our planet, while enhancing the economy. Now, we have the challenge of undoing the terrible harm that is occurring.

My books have always been science-based, peer-reviewed, and highly accepted by the professional fields as textbooks and professional books because of the comprehensiveness of the material for the entire environmental health field, the statement of problems and solutions and especially now in the Best Practices for Environmental Health: Environmental Pollution, Protection, Quality and Sustainability book a very simple means of stating each of the problem areas, interrelationship of various environmental media and solutions to the problem in a simple list form. Only by teaching students and professionals as well as the general public the real problems of the environment and how to solve them, can we hope to make change in our society to prevent early death, disease and injury and protect our planet.

All the existing problems discussed in the Best Practices Book will continue to grow because of increasing populations, political considerations, inadequate budgets, aging populations etc., unless we can educate the various leaders both community and political about the real problems of the environment and the fact that there are solutions. In addition, social media tends to spread inaccuracies and downright false information about the environment and health and it is up to us to counteract this with facts.

Further, new technologies will probably add additional environmental problems that can cause disease and injury, if not controlled properly.

Best Practices for Environmental Health: Environmental Pollution, Protection, Quality and Sustainability and the other three supporting books are of vast importance in counteracting erroneous information and resolving problems. By getting media attention to these materials and publicizing them widely, we make a good first effort toward protecting our society of the future.

A. Captain Carlyle Roberts, United States Public Health Service-Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Field Training Center-1956

B. Russell B Franklin, Chief of Training, Philadelphia Department of Public Health for teaching me how to organize my thoughts and how to develop comprehensive outlines for my writings.

C. Prof. William Gibson University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health for teaching me how to think outside of the box in helping me become so innovative.

D. Dr. Luther Terry, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, Vice President for Medical Affairs University of Pennsylvania Medical School for helping me find my first publisher.

E. Dr. Jerrold M Michael, Assistant Surgeon General United States Public Health Service, Dean School of Public Health University of Hawaii, for a lifetime of guidance and support.

F. Dr. John Hanlon, Assistant Surgeon General United States Public Health Service, Director of Local Health Services, Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

G. The thousands of students at Indiana State University that gave me the opportunity over 28 ½ years to share my experience and knowledge with them, while they were sharing their experience and knowledge with me.

A. The opportunity to take young people and work with them while turning them into professionals who will go out into the world and help save lives, prevent disease and injury and protect our planet.

B. The Walter S Mangold Award in 2005, the highest honor given by the National Environmental Health Association for “Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of the Environmental Health Professional”-- C. Michael Krecek, District Health Officer of Midland County Department Of Public Health,said-“He’s left a true mark upon the nation and world from the more than 500 environmental health professionals he has placed in the field through his work at Indiana State University. His efforts have had a major impact on supplying skilled environmental health practitioners to the workforce, who are now leaders in environmental health and public health. I am one of these leaders and I’m convinced it would not have been possible without the mentoring and caring attitude of Hank Koren.”

Purchase your copy

  • Best Practices for Environmental Health

    Environmental Pollution, Protection, Quality and Sustainability, 1st Edition

    By Herman Koren

    In a present where there are countless opportunities for the spread of exotic diseases, the expansion and creation of far more illness in our global population through globalization and rapid transportation, and the contamination of water, air and land, we find ourselves accountable. In this day…

    Paperback – 2017-05-09
    Routledge
    Best Practices for Public Health

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