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Topic Pages

Topic Pages introduce an aspect of the environment and its relation to public health by featuring a curated shortlist of NCCEH and external resources. The most relevant resources related to a topic have been selected to best guide the search for further information. These lists are not intended to be exhaustive, and the omission of any individual resource does not preclude it from having value.

Lead in School Drinking Water

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that is commonly present in our environment and can have serious, irreversible cognitive and behavioral impacts, particularly in children. Historically, most lead exposure has occurred through inhaling leaded-gasoline combustion products in the atmosphere; this contribution has drastically declined due to the global phase-out of leaded gasoline. Other sources of...

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Cyanobacteria in Freshwater

Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, are naturally occurring microscopic organisms found in fresh, brackish, or marine water that can form cyanotoxins. These toxins are a serious public health issue as exposure can cause illness and, in worst case scenarios, can be fatal (Svirčev et al. 2017). Under certain environmental conditions, cyanobacteria multiply quickly and create blooms...

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Radiofrequency Radiation

Radiofrequency (RF) radiation are electromagnetic waves emitted from a variety of common wireless communication devices, including cell phones, cordless (DECT) phones, Wi-Fi computer networks, smart meters, and baby monitors. The frequencies of RF waves range from 3 KHz (3,000 Hz) to 300 GHz (300 million hertz). Personal exposure to RF waves is highest when devices, such as cell phones, are held...

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Artificial Turf and Crumb Rubber

Modern artificial turf is used indoors and outdoors in a wide variety of settings, including multipurpose recreational and professional sports fields, playgrounds, residential areas, and public streetscapes (base of trees, sidewalks), and public parks. This product is thought to play an important role in urban environments by increasing play space, reducing injuries, allowing play under adverse...

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Floatation Tanks

Floatation or float tanks have resurged in popularity since their initial commercialization in the 1970s. These tanks, pods, or chambers are intended to help users achieve certain physical and mental benefits through the elimination (or minimization) of sensory inputs. Briefly, the user floats on his or her back in a warm, near-saturated solution of magnesium sulphate (MgSO4), which buoys the...

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Oil Spills and Health

The transportation of oil and gas products by land and sea create opportunities for unexpected mass exposures in communities that may or may not be prepared for such an event. Oil spills are also very complex events, in that they may have minimal or very serious human health and environmental impacts. The resources here are intended to assist public health practitioners in: Understanding the...

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Marine Shellfish Poisoning

Marine shellfish poisoning refers to illnesses in humans caused by consumption of marine bivalve shellfish (e.g., clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, cockles) that contain biotoxins (e.g., domoic acid, okadaic acid, saxitoxin). Shellfish feed by filtering microscopic marine plants, called phytoplankton, from the water. Some species of phytoplankton naturally produce toxins. These toxins can cause...

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Radon

Radon is a colourless, odourless gas released from the degradation of uranium naturally present in rock and soil. Radon levels outdoors are generally low; however, radon can enter buildings and homes through cracks and openings in the foundation and can accumulate at much higher concentrations indoors, especially in basements and lower floors. Over 3,200 Canadians are estimated to die each year...

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Hydraulic Fracturing for the Production of Shale Gas

Hydraulic fracturing (also termed “fracking”) is the process used, along with horizontal drilling, to extract unconventional natural gas (shale gas, tight gas or coalbed methane) and tight oil from reserves deep in the earth. Fractures are created in relatively impermeable rock (such as shale) by injecting large amounts of fracturing fluid (a mixture of water and chemicals) deep into the earth...

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