Public Health Merit Badge Answers: A ScoutSmarts Guide


If you’re preparing to earn the Public Health merit badge, you’re in the right place! In this guide, I’ll be providing you with all of the information that you’ll need to understand pandemics, our healthcare system, and disease control. Afterward, you’ll be able to answer each question on your merit badge worksheet and earn the Public Health merit badge!

You’ve reached part 2 of my ultimate guide to the Public Health merit badge! If you’re new to ScoutSmarts, you should first check out part 1 for the answers to requirements 1-3 of the Public Health badge.

If you’ve come over from part one, congratulations! You’ve already learned a ton of useful info, and you’re about to learn so much more! Give yourself a big pat on the back. 🙂

Let’s get back into it! This section will primarily focus on the public health measures used in your school, community, and state. Now, take the time to closely review and think through requirements 4-8 of the Public Health merit badge!

What Are The Public Health Merit Badge Answers?

  1. Explain what a vector is and how insects and rodents can be controlled in your home, in your community, and at camp. Tell why this is important. In your discussion, explain which vectors can be easily controlled by individuals and which ones require long-term, collective action.
  2. With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, do ONE of the following:
    • 5a. Visit a municipal wastewater treatment facility OR a solid-waste management operation in your community.
      • I. Describe how the facility safely treats and disposes of sewage or solid waste.
        II. Discuss your visit and what you learned with your counselor.
        III. Describe how sewage and solid waste should be disposed of under wilderness camping conditions.
    • 5b. Visit a food service facility, such as a restaurant or school cafeteria.
      • I. Observe food preparation, handling, and storage. Learn how the facility keeps food from becoming contaminated.
        II. Find out what conditions allow micro-organisms to multiply in food, what can be done to help prevent them from growing and spreading, and how to kill them.
        III. Discuss the importance of using a thermometer to check food temperatures.
        IV. Discuss your visit and what you learned with your counselor.
  3. Do the following:
    • 6a. Describe the health dangers from air, water, and noise pollution.
      6b. Describe health dangers from tobacco use and alcohol and drug abuse.
      6c. Describe the health dangers from abusing illegal and prescription drugs.
  4. With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, do ONE of the following:
    • 7a. Visit your city, county, or state public health agency.
      7b. Familiarize yourself with your city, county, or state health agency’s website.
      —After completing either 7a or 7b, do the following:
      • I. Compare the four leading causes of mortality (death) in your community for any of the past five years with the four leading causes of disease in your community. Explain how the public health agency you visited is trying to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates of these leading causes of illness and death.
        II. Explain the role of your health agency as it relates to the outbreak of diseases.
        III. Discuss the kinds of public assistance the agency is able to provide in case of disasters such as floods, storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other acts of destruction. Your discussion can include the cleanup necessary after the disaster.
  5. Pick a profession in the public health sector that interests you. Find out the education, training, and experience required to work in this profession. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.
4) Explain what a vector is and how insects and rodents can be controlled in your home, in your community, and at camp. Tell why this is important. In your discussion, explain which vectors can be easily controlled by individuals and which ones require long-term, collective action.

A vector is any person, animal, or microorganism that carries and transmits an infectious disease to another organism. Often, infectious diseases are spread by insects like fleas and lice, or mammals such as rats and bats. Therefore, it is important to keep these creatures out of your households and communities.

Some vectors spread by pests within your household are easy to control. To protect yourself from the diseases spread by insects and rodents, you can use the following guidelines:

  • Practice proper food and waste storage
  • Use bug spray and rat traps if you find pests in your house.
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Avoid leaving food open and unattended
  • Immediately clean dirty countertops and food spills

Some vectors can be more difficult to control, especially those that are spread by humans. COVID-19 is a prime example of this, and shows how devastating a fast-spreading virus can be.

Now that you have a basic understanding of vectors, watch this quick and informative CVBD video (2:07) to learn how a disease can spread from animals to humans, as well as what society is currently doing to prevent this from happening.

By working together, even highly infectious diseases can be contained. Organizations like the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the WHO (World Health Organization) work to identify infectious diseases preemptively, then develop cures, and distribute vaccines. They also help to raise public awareness in reducing the transmission of infectious diseases.

Even in the worst pandemics, individuals can always make a difference in slowing the spread of disease and reducing the number of expected casualties. For instance, here are collective actions that experts recommend you do to reduce the potential impact of COVID-19:

  • Stay informed: Keep up-to-date on the latest information on virus transmission methods, preventative measures, and CDC recommendations.
  • Social distancing: Avoid contact with others. Often, young people are asymptomatic and don’t show signs of illness, but could pass it on to others. Even if you’re not feeling sick, avoid unnecessary social contact.
  • Wear facial coverings: Although facial coverings don’t dramatically reduce your own risk of contracting the virus, they do stop you from potentially spreading it to others. If you absolutely must go into public, wear a mask or a bandanna around your face.
With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, do ONE of the following:
5a) Visit a municipal wastewater treatment facility OR a solid-waste management operation in your community.
I) Describe how the facility safely treats and disposes of sewage or solid waste.
-II) Discuss your visit and what you learned with your counselor.
-III) Describe how sewage and solid waste should be disposed of under wilderness camping conditions.

5b) Visit a food service facility, such as a restaurant or school cafeteria.
I) Observe food preparation, handling, and storage. Learn how the facility keeps food from becoming contaminated.
II) Find out what conditions allow micro-organisms to multiply in food, what can be done to help prevent them from growing and spreading, and how to kill them.
III) Discuss the importance of using a thermometer to check food temperatures.
IV) Discuss your visit and what you learned with your counselor.

I’d recommend completing option 5b, as visiting a food service facility such as your school’s cafeteria will be an easier trip to arrange than visiting a waste management facility. Learning how your school’s meals are made and kept safe from bacteria will also be relevant to you and your friends, making this option even more interesting!

You should be able to easily schedule an appointment to tour a cafeteria by calling your school ahead of time. Let them know about the merit badge requirements, and then ask if they’d be willing to put you in touch with any cafeteria workers who would be able to help. If all else fails, you could even reach out to other schools or restaurants in your area and make the same request!

This requirement gives you plenty of opportunities to learn new things, so be sure to prepare a few additional questions beforehand. And that’s about all there is to it! Have a fun time and learn as much as you can. 🙂

If you’re not able to visit a food facility in the near future:

I’d recommend asking your merit badge counselor if they’d allow you to watch the video (51:05) below to complete the requirement. It’s a long training but will provide useful information that’ll help you to answer each of the questions you’ll need to discuss!

Do the following:
6a) Describe the health dangers from air, water, and noise pollution.

Air Pollution:

Air pollution is caused by harmful emissions from factories, vehicles, farms, and other sources. This can be in the form of burned fossil fuels or exhausts from factories. These pollutants have a negative effect on both humans and the natural ecosystem.

Common pollutants include carbon monoxide and dioxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and methane. These pollutants are the main sources of climate change, and can also cause serious health problems in humans.

In the long run, air pollution can be extremely harmful to the health of humans living in polluted areas. Increased health risks in areas with especially high air pollution include respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, increased risk of cancer, skin irritation, allergies, nausea, headaches, and excess fatigue.

Water Pollution:

Water pollution is the contamination of lakes, streams, groundwater supplies, and oceans. Various types of water pollution include toxic waste, oils, sediment, and thermal heat. Each of these sources of pollution can result in human health issues, poisoned wildlife, and lasting ecological damage.

To help protect our planet’s water supply, you should dispose of oils, paints, and other toxic chemicals in government-specified centers. As a nation, we can create erosion control ordinances and avoid over-fertilizing land. This will help to prevent runoff in our water supplies, thereby keeping our lakes, rivers, and oceans clean and filled with life.

Noise Pollution:

Regular exposure to loud noises can have damaging effects on living organisms. Noise pollution is understood as sound levels above 70 dB which can cause hearing damage over time. For instance, living next to a busy highway or airport can lead to hearing loss, stress, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms will typically worsen if the exposure to loud noises continues.

The World Health Organization recommends you wear earplugs when exposed to elevated noise levels and avoid to jobs with regular exposure to loud sounds. While this may not always be possible, try to do what you can to protect your ears. Listening to music at a low volume, wearing earplugs, and being mindful of loud sounds are the best steps you can take to protect your ears for life!

Noise pollution can also have an adverse effect on wildlife and marine life. Whales, dolphins, and other aquatic creatures are disturbed by the noises produced by the movement of ships, and can have shorter lifespans as a result.

6b) Describe health dangers from tobacco use and alcohol and drug abuse.

The long-term abuse of harmful substances like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can lead to addictions and increase your risk for a variety of illnesses. Smoking increases your risk for heart and gum disease, lung cancer, and stroke. Drinking alcohol too frequently can lead to impaired judgment, liver disease, and increased risks of heart issues.

Although it’s unrealistic to expect every person not to drink, smoke, or do drugs in their lifetime, be sure to understand the risks before engaging in these behaviors. If you do decide to drink or smoke, do it responsibly and in moderation to avoid developing addictions.

6c) Describe the health dangers from abusing illegal and prescription drugs.

Ingesting any substances that are not prescribed to you by a doctor can cause negative health effects and lasting cognitive damage. Prescription drugs should always be taken in strict accordance with pharmacist recommendations. Misuse of illegal prescription drugs can lead to addiction, health complications, and potentially, criminal consequences.

With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, do ONE of the following:
7a. Visit your city, county, or state public health agency.
7b. Familiarize yourself with your city, county, or state health agency’s website.

—After completing either 7a or 7b, do the following:
I. Compare the four leading causes of mortality (death) in your community for any of the past five years with the four leading causes of disease in your community. Explain how the public health agency you visited is trying to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates of these leading causes of illness and death.
II. Explain the role of your health agency as it relates to the outbreak of diseases.
III. Discuss the kinds of public assistance the agency is able to provide in case of disasters such as floods, storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other acts of destruction. Your discussion can include the cleanup necessary after the disaster.

Most likely, 7b will be the easiest option for you to complete. However, this greatly varies from state to state, as some state websites do a poor job at documenting this information publicly. If you aren’t able to find the information online, I’d recommend using national statistics instead (2015 mortality rates) or simply visiting your local agency in person.

The best way to find your state’s health agency website is by Googling, “(your state) health agency.” The correct website will either be a “Health and Human Services” or “Department of Health” website, with its URL ending in ‘.gov’. In looking for the information needed, the search function in the top right corner will be your best friend!

If you can’t find the information needed after an hour of searching, speak with your merit badge counselor and tell them what you have learned. After speaking with you, your counselor may be willing to fill in the information you’ve missed! It’s actually very tricky getting your hands on up-to-date data, so be willing to ask for help. Good luck!

8) Pick a profession in the public health sector that interests you. Find out the education, training, and experience required to work in this profession. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.

These healthcare professionals require many years of schooling and are tasked with investigating causes of disease and injury in humans! Know which professionals I’m talking about? Did you think I was talking about doctors? The career path I was actually referring to was epidemiology!

Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists often work in a lab and are typically employed by government agencies, health departments, and universities. However, some epidemiologists also work on the go within society, conducting interviews and acquiring samples to analyze.

To become an epidemiologist, you’ll need at least a master’s degree from an accredited university. Most epidemiologists have degrees in public health or medicine. You’d also need to complete an internship where you’d learn about current best safety practices and research methods to understand how diseases affect different communities.

Some of the experiences you’ll have as an epidemiologist include:

  • Conducting experiments in labs
  • Analyzing data using statistical models
  • Studying groups of people over time
  • Organizing strategic initiatives for community health and wellness
  • Planing and tracking disease prevention plans.

Now are you interested in becoming an epidemiologist? 🙂

Conclusion

Congratulations, scout! You’ve made it. By now you should have a solid understanding of the causes of illness, prevention strategies that can be used to reduce disease transmission, and the public health agencies that exist to protect us! Your knowledge likely puts you in the top 2% of Americans in understanding public health. Well done!

If you found this post helpful, I’ve also written guides to many of the other Eagle-required merit badges. I’d definitely recommend checking out my comprehensive difficulty rankings for every Eagle-required merit badge if you haven’t seen it already. 

Hope this resource helped you to answer every requirement on your merit badge worksheet! I’m looking forward to having you back at ScoutSmarts soon because I’m constantly uploading new content to help scouts like yourself. Until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey!

(Click here to visit part 1 of my guide to the Public Health merit badge!)

Cole

I'm constantly writing new content for this website because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making this world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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