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Environmental Engineers

History

Although people have been doing work that falls into the category of environmental engineering for decades, it is only within about the last 45 years or so that a separate professional category has been recognized for environmental engineers.

Post-Civil War industrialization and urbanization created life-threatening water and air quality problems. These problems continued during and after World War II, dramatically increasing all forms of environmental pollution. After the war, pollution control technologies were developed to deal with the damage. In the early 20th century, environmental engineering often meant sanitary engineering, which is a form of civil engineering.

Environmental engineering is an offshoot of civil engineering/sanitary engineering and focuses on the development of the physical systems needed to control waste streams. Civil engineers who already were doing this type of work began to refer to themselves as environmental engineers around 1970 with the great boom in new environmental regulations.

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