Ethics of Civil Engineers – Weekly Journal 8

During this week’s PFP class, we talked about the ethics in our own field and how can they serve as the model for professional conduct. As an soon-to-be environmental engineer, my field falls in civil engineering in United States. After searching on the Internet, I found seven codes of ethics for civil engineers, most of which are similar to the common codes of professional engineers. Honestly, I have not heard or learned the ethics codes before, and to enhance my understandings towards a better engineer, I will look through the first and most important ethic code in this week’s journal.

The first canon is “hold safety paramount“.

Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and shall strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development in the performance of their professional duties. 

As the first canon, it states the most important responsibility as a Civil (or Environmental ) Engineer. Since environmental engineers are dealing with pollution monitoring, waste neutralize, resource recovery, health assessment, and approach evaluation, we should always think the issue and make the right move that favors the public safety, health and general welfare. Even though we may in competition of interests or find ourselves in the dilemma, we should not sacrifice public safety to achieve our mere goal. It is true that, sometimes, we can find ourselves in the dilemma that our employer or company wants a positive evaluation result indicating that toxic or nutrient level in a not well-treated wastewater meets the federal standards. In this case, we cannot abandon our ethic code and should bravely stand our against it. Take the recent Flint Crisis as an example, it is through Dr. Edwards professional ethics and committment to secure public safety at all times that Flint long-lasting problem has been revealed. Otherwise, the high-level of lead and other microbes in the drinking water will done irreversible effect on local people, especially little kids. Although I’m not in the field of drinking water that appears to be more related to our daily life, same health issue and concerns can emerge in wastewater treatment and recovery. The domestic wastewater in United States are normally in fine quality even before treated and should not be a major concern. However, for the industrial wastewater from chemical industries, power plants, paper factories, and food processing companies shoud be well taken care off at all expense. Otherwise, not only the toxic substances within could gradually poison the local people but the whole ecosystem will be damaged. We environmental engineers are the last barrier for public health and ecosystem protection, and safety should always comes first.

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