Environmental Health Student at Univ. of California, Irvine, Urges Others to Enter Public Health

by Tuan D. Tran

Students of Public Health: Voices & Profiles focuses on research projects and other contributions students are making to advance public health.

Tuan Dinh Tran

STUDENT VOICES — I see no better time to learn and work in the field of public health than NOW. Critical health and environmental issues such as over-population, rapid depletion of natural resources, global warming, and the emergence of incurable and deadly diseases are becoming more urgent than ever before, and the severe consequences that result from these events are compounding. With such pervasive challenges present in the field, I believe that by pursuing a professional career in public health, individuals will have a wider opportunity to make weighted, wholesome contributions to society. Currently, I endeavor to advance my academic studies and trainings in the field of public health, particularly environmental health at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), to expand my knowledge and skills so that I may become more effective in working with other professionals in search of ways to mitigate and/or adapt to critical health and environmental challenges.

Through my training as an Environmental Health Specialist for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health-Environmental Health Division, I had the privilege of watching a presentation on well water drilling conducted by an industry expert. As the presenter pointed out, undeveloped/developing countries need assistance with educating and training individuals on how to properly install a sanitary seal to protect the well water from potential sources of contamination. During the presenter’s trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2001 to educate people on the proper method of well water drilling, a Vietnamese nurse informed him that human fat tissues were detected in the well’s water that was located near a cemetery. In addition, the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers is becoming common in rural villages as farmers find ways to improve their crop yields and livestock. Unfortunately, without taking proper precautions, farmers may unknowingly contaminate well water with carcinogenic chemicals from pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Wells are prevalent in the rural villages of undeveloped/developing countries because people primarily rely on them to supply water for drinking and cooking due to the lack of access to potable water. The aforementioned examples are a prime case-in-point that opportunities exist for professionals in the field of public health to be the leaders in solving global health and environmental issues and providing education and support for local communities as well as undeveloped/developing countries that are ill-equipped to deal with such challenges.

With that said, while working as an Environmental Health Specialist, I have learned that there is rarely a simple answer to existing health and environmental issues. In finding solutions for public health issues, there needs to be sufficient communication and coherent understanding between relevant parties regarding jurisdictions, available resources, ultimate mission, etc. Simply put, to address these issues effectively, collaboration from various parties is essential. Thus, I am confident that the UCI Public Health Program will allow me to gain a better understanding of this field—its current issues and proven /or potential approaches to solve problems—so that I will be become a more effective contributor to the field of public health.

In light of current health and environmental-related events taking place locally and globally, the field of public health is currently in a transformative state with many opportunities for individuals to pursue in their professional careers to making this world a better place. I highly desire to be a participant in its transformation, and I hope more students will join in with urgency.

Tuan Dinh Tran graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, with a bachelor’s degree in Physiological Science and Mathematic-Applied Science. He is currently a second year MPH graduate student at University of California, Irvine with an emphasis on Environmental Health. He is also working for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health-Environmental Health Division as an Environmental Health Specialist.