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environmental engineering[in¦vī·ərn¦mənt·əl en·jə′nir·iŋ]
The division of engineering concerned with the environment and management of natural resources. The environmental engineer places special attention on the biological, chemical, and physical reactions in the air, land, and water environments and on improved technology for integrated management systems, including reuse, recycling, and recovery measures.
Environmental engineering began with consideration of the need for acceptable drinking water and for management of liquid and solid wastes. Abatement of air and land contamination became new challenges for the environmental engineer, followed by toxic-waste and hazardous-waste concerns. The environmental engineer is also instrumental in the mitigation and protection of wildlife habitat, preservation of species, and the overall well-being of ecosystems.
The principal environmental engineering specialties are air-quality control, water supply, wastewater disposal, stormwater management, solid-waste management, and hazardous-waste management. Other specialties include industrial hygiene, noise control, oceanography, and radiology. See Hazardous waste, Water supply engineering