Eduardo Reyes, MPH
Upon my graduation in May 2020, I gained employment as an Environmental Health Specialist/Industrial Hygienist with International Safety Systems Inc. (https://issehs.com); an industrial hygiene and safety consulting company serving more than 35 countries with offices in the US, Germany, China, India, and Mexico. I am supporting the U.S office, in Houston, TX, with various industrial hygiene projects involving different industries including pharmaceutical, aerospace manufacturing, oilfield service, and specialty chemicals.
What led you to public health and to occupational & environmental health in particular?
Growing up as a second generation Latino in the U.S, I would see most of my family members involved with manual or trade related occupations. At a young age, I understood the value of hard work and even felt privileged when I had the opportunity to join my father or uncle on side-work projects. Fortunately, none of my family members suffered serious injuries throughout their career; however, the long-term health effects were evident later in life. Several of my family members are now suffering from occupational illnesses due to harmful working conditions, and they are not alone. According to a report from American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, an estimated 95,000 workers died from occupational diseases in 2017. As the president of the consulting company I work for, Mr. Maharshi Mehta, mentioned in a recent interview: “think of every worker as a family member, then you will realize the importance of industrial hygiene.” Therefore, choosing a career in industrial hygiene was not a difficult decision to make.
Tell us about your work. What is an average day like for you?
In my current position, I support our clients in 1) identifying hazards in the workplace, 2) performing qualitative and quantitative exposure assessments to assess the employee’s exposure to those hazards, and 3) offer solutions to reduce or eliminate their exposure to those hazards. I enjoy every part of my profession, especially, when I can help convey to our clients the potential occupational health and safety risks their employees may be facing and offer novel solutions in reducing those risks.
Industrial hygiene is largely focused on mitigating or eliminating adverse health outcomes that may arise years later; thus, the value of our work is not seen immediately. However, I am grateful knowing that my efforts could potentially save someone’s life, and they can enjoy a life free of illness.
How did your education as a SWCOEH ERC trainee at UTHealth School of Public Health prepare you for your current career?
While a career in industrial hygiene is an exciting and rewarding field, it is also one that requires a high level of study in various scientific disciplines. Thankfully, I came across the UTHealth School of Public Health Master of Public Health degree program, offered with an ABET-accredited Industrial Hygiene curriculum. As a Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health Education and Research Center (SWCOEH ERC) Trainee, I was able to pursue my education full-time with a highly knowledgeable faculty filled with multiple opportunities for training in various work settings.
During my time in the program, I performed over 100 personal air and noise monitoring events across seven different states in the U.S via my summer internship. In addition, I was able to partake in an air quality study with Dr. Inkyu Han during the events of a chemical fire. Upon graduation, I genuinely felt prepared for a career in Industrial Hygiene and am grateful to play my small part in protecting the health and safety of those who form the backbone of our communities.
What advice do you have for students pursuing a SWCOEH ERC traineeship leading to a career in public health?
If you are looking for a program that offers the best education, resources, and experiences that will lead you towards a successful career in public health, pursing a SWCOEH ERC traineeship is a no-brainer. My biggest advice for future trainees is to not only focus on the academic portion of the program but take advantage of the many opportunities and projects offered on campus to get the most out of your time in the traineeship. Obtaining real world experience will foster your skills from the classroom and will make you highly sought after by employers after graduation.