Environmental management and organisations
Environmental management and organisations

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

12.2 Public health

Despite the scale and speed of industrialisation, it took time to move from local responses to national legislation in terms of public health. In the UK, it was not until the Public Health Act 1848 that corporate boroughs were given responsibility for (amongst other things) drainage, water supplies and removal of ‘nuisances’.

Environmental management was mostly conceived as managing environmental resources and wastes for public health. Key milestones were the cholera epidemic of 1847, which led to water supply improvements, and the ‘Great Stink’ in London of 1858, which led to an enabling Act that raised funding for the construction of sewers to manage inflows into the Thames. Much later, London’s ‘Great Smog’ of 1952 lead to the Clean Air Act 1956 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and the creation of smokeless zones.

Described image
Figure 20 The Great Smog of London 1952

London is still suffering ongoing public health issues concerning invisible traffic pollution, as discussed in this BBC News article, which also provides some video of the Great Smog of 1952.

In these cases, ‘public health’ rather than ‘environmental protection’ (still an unknown concept) was the focus. The environment was principally regarded as a pathway – the medium through which harmful substances and ‘waste’ could be removed – rather than an element that required protection in and of itself.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371