Clean Water Crusader earns 2020 Environmental Health Award from NSF International and NEHA

July 31, 2020
Dr. Joseph Cotruvo recognized for outstanding contributions to the advancement of environmental health.

ANN ARBOR, MI -- NSF International and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) have named Joseph Cotruvo, Ph.D., BCES the 2020 Walter F. Snyder Environmental Health Award. Dr. Cotruvo received the award at the virtual 2020 NEHA Annual Education Conference, in recognition of more than 45 years of dedicated service to environmental and public health through leadership, collaboration and consensus national standards development.

For nearly 50 years, NSF International and NEHA have presented the Snyder Award to recognize public health professionals who safeguard the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the environment we share. The Snyder Award honors NSF International’s co-founder and first executive director, Walter F. Snyder, who provided outstanding contributions to the advancement of environmental and public health.

Dr. Cotruvo’s accomplishments as a “clean water crusader” includes 23 years as Director of the U.S. EPA’s Criteria and Standards Division in the Office of Drinking Water, and as Director of the Risk Assessment Division in Toxic Chemicals. He also worked four years at NSF International, first as a Senior Regulatory Executive and later as Vice President of Environmental Health Sciences, where he helped to advance the NSF/WHO Collaborating Center for Drinking Water. He later established the professional environmental consulting firm Joseph Cotruvo & Associates.

“I remember when we welcomed Joe to NSF International to head up our newly formed WHO Collaborating Center and to lead NSF’s Washington D.C. office. He helped solidify NSF as a public health resource among many of the regulatory bodies and professional associations based in the capital.  Joe was instrumental in helping to launch NSF’s series of drinking water quality conferences that attracted major support from EPA, AWWA, ASDWA and other professional water groups.  His accomplished career reflects the important principles expressed by Walter F. Snyder and the public health mission of NSF International,” said Kevan P. Lawlor, NSF International President and CEO. “From his early days at the EPA, where he initiated the Drinking Water Health Advisory Program, through his time with NSF International and beyond, Dr. Cotruvo has been at the forefront of national drinking water regulations and health risk assessments which have safeguarded human health and safety for decades. We’re honored to present him with the 2020 Snyder Award.”

“Joe’s career in chemistry, toxicology, public water supply and global health is impressive by any measure,” said David T. Dyjack, Dr.PH, CIH, Executive Director and CEO of NEHA. “During his long and remarkable career, he has always followed the science and the data to the best possible public health result. He’s been a consummate leader, working to advance public health across a wide range of organizations and covering a variety of environmental water safety and health issues.”

After passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, Dr. Cotruvo helped launch the new EPA Office of Drinking Water. In a 2013 Water Technology interview, Dr. Cotruvo said “That was my first involvement in drinking water. It turned out to be an ideal position. We built it from the ground up and staffed it with the best people. Implementing a new law with a lot of essential technical underpinning was the perfect opportunity for me to integrate science, law and public policy and it was pure good fortune that I was in the right place at the right time.”

As an EPA director in the Office of Water, he initiated and supervised the development of national drinking water regulations and guidelines for organic and inorganic chemicals, disinfection by-products, microbials, radionuclides, corrosion and surface water treatment under the Safe Drinking Water Act. As Director of EPA’s Health and Environmental Review Division in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, he managed development of human and ecological hazard assessments for industrial chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Later, as Director of that office’s Chemical Screening and Risk Assessment Division, Dr. Cotruvo managed the development of human and ecological risk assessments for new and existing industrial chemicals. While at EPA he served on NSF International drinking water standards committees, as well as the NSF Council of Public Health Consultants that ratifies NSF standards as protective of public health. He’s a longtime member of the World Health Organization’s committee on Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, and he serves on numerous panels overseeing major projects on converting wastewater to drinking water.

“I am truly honored and humbled to have been selected to receive the 2020 Walter F. Snyder Award,” said Dr. Cotruvo. “Our country’s overall public health status has significantly improved over time, but novel issues continue to arise that challenge health professionals’ ability to reduce societal health risks. I feel our essential role as environmental and public health professionals is at least partly to assure that the issues are properly prioritized and addressed by the science and facts. One of our essential roles is to communicate those facts to help galvanize public support to solve the problems that need solving.”

Dr. Cotruvo chairs the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists’ Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Award committee. He’s an Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement honoree and past President of the Inter-American Association of Environmental and Sanitation Engineering. He has served as associate editor and, later, on the editorial board of the American Water Works Association’s Journal AWWA. Dr. Cotruvo is an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toledo.

Dr. Cotruvo is a board-certified member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, and an honorary life member of both the American Water Works Association and the Water Quality Association. He is also a member of the American Chemical Society, the International Dose-Response Society and the Senior Executives Association.

Snyder Award nominations are open to the public, and a juror panel of environmental health leaders selects the recipients. For more information about the Walter F. Snyder Award or to nominate a colleague for next year’s award, visit NSF International’s website.

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