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Artificial turf: Contributions and limits of health research in decision making

Artificial turf continues to elicit public health concern as a potential risk to children’s health, which has prompted research investment to generate better and more comprehensive risk assessments. This presentation will examine the aspects of artificial turf that heighten risk perception. It will provide a brief summary of recent artificial turf research, and discuss the objectives and...

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Growing Cannabis Safely at Home

Video Transcript As of 2018, it became legal for Canadians to grow up to 4 cannabis plants per household. Having cannabis plants in a home poses risks but there are ways to grow more safely. Children, pets, and even adults are at risk of poisoning during cultivation processing and waste disposal. Poison control center data tells us that kids and pets are just as likely to eat unfinished joints...

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Ethnic foods: Balut, Pork dinakdakan, ceviche and chile relleno

Topics: Food General, Canada 

Canada’s population is highly diverse with variations across regions, bringing with it an ever-growing variety of specialty ethnic foods. With the rising popularity of specialty ethnic foods, public health inspectors (PHIs) are increasingly required to assess the safety of new and unfamiliar food products in food service establishments and food outlets. This gap in knowledge about specialty...

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Naturally Occurring Asbestos in an Outdoor Setting

Primary inquiry: Heavy rains caused a river to flood and overflow its banks. Soil containing naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) was deposited onto the surrounding land. This land is used for farming, and includes the backyards of private dwellings and areas used for various recreational pursuits. What are the potential public health risks from exposure to NOA in these outdoor settings? What...

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Cleanup Instructions for Small Mercury Spills - revised

Exposure to the small amount of mercury found in common household devices, such as fever thermometers, thermostats, or fluorescent light bulbs, is not likely to cause serious health problems. Humans are frequently exposed to greater quantities of mercury, much of it methylmercury, through diet. Nevertheless, all mercury spills, regardless of quantity, should be treated seriously and cleaned up ...

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Fact Sheet: Non-pharmaceutical measures to prevent the transmission of influenza

This fact sheet is for public health professionals. It provides a brief overview on specific non-pharmaceutical measures to be used in community settings. Such measures can prevent the spread of influenza by interrupting the transfer of viruses from objects or people through the use of personal protective equipment or changes to behaviour. The content is primarily based on the NCCID article “Non...

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Environmental Risk Factors for Community-Acquired MRSA

Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is endemic in North America. In contrast to MRSA acquired in hospital settings, CA-MRSA is present in a wide variety of environments including health care settings outside of hospitals and animal care settings, beaches and recreational waters, athletic facilities, spas and saunas. The risk of infection from environmental...

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Request for Input: Evaluation of NCCEH Knowledge Products

The NCCEH is conducting an evaluation on how our knowledge products are used and on ways to improve them. Your opinions and suggestions will help us produce work that is relevant and useful to environmental public health policy making and practice. The survey is made up of a short list of questions that should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. You can find it here: http://fluidsurveys....

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Health Effects of Oil Spills and Implications for Public Health Planning and Research

Two major pipeline projects have been proposed to transport petroleum products from Alberta to the British Columbian coast. Despite potential economic benefits, these proposals have roused widespread public concern regarding the health and ecological consequences of a major marine or terrestrial spill. In Metro Vancouver, the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion will triple the volume of petroleum...

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Effectiveness of Alternative Antimicrobial Agents for Disinfection of Hard Surfaces - revised

A review of alternative antimicrobial agents reveals the need for standardized methodology for efficacy testing as well as considerations of toxicity, safety, cost, ease of use, availability, storage, and application-specific testing. The appropriateness of alternative antimicrobial agents, such as vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda appear to be limited for commercial disinfection or...

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Risk Factors and Surveillance Systems for Foodborne Illness Outbreaks in Canada (University of Guelph Master of Public Health Program)

Topics: Food General, Canada 

Risk factors for foodborne illness in Canada span along the “farm-to-fork continuum.” Human risk factors include personal hygiene, cross-contamination, temperature control and unsafe food sources. Surveillance and food safety systems at the regional (or local), provincial/territorial, and federal levels are designed to functioncollaboratively. The efficiency of surveillance systems to produce...

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Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Perinatal Health (UBC Bridge Program)

The period between conception and early childhood when vital organs are forming and rapidly developing is the most vulnerable of life stages to the effects of toxic environment exposures, including traffic-related air pollution (TRAP). Epidemiologic studies on preterm birth have consistently shown elevated risks with a number of measures of TRAP, including distance of residence from traffic...

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Mould Assessment Recommendations - revised

Excessive dampness and mould growth on building material surfaces and contents can pose health risks and should not be tolerated in indoor environments. A mould assessment determines if mould is present, but does not determine or estimate mould exposure. Health-based exposure limits for indoor mould in residential environments have not been established; inspecting for visible and hidden mould,...

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Mould Remediation Recommendations - revised

Excessive dampness and mould growth on building material surfaces and contents can pose health risks and should not be tolerated in indoor environments. The main goal of remediation is to reduce the risk of exposure to mould and to prevent structural damage; the underlying cause of dampness must be identified and eliminated or mould will reappear. Effective mould remediation requires the ...

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Programs and Services - Who Does What?

Environmental health programs and services are delivered by various agencies across Canada. In an effort to make this information readily available, we have compiled it into a two-part, comprehensive resource. The initial directory of this information was created in 2010 through a pilot project with the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI) and was last updated in 2013. The...

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Review of Guidelines for Shock Chlorination in Private Wells (UBC Bridge Program)

Microbial contamination of groundwater from private wells can pose a significant health risk to rural Canadians. To mitigate risk, Health Canada currently recommends shock chlorination along with microbial well testing, voluntary measures most often performed by the homeowner. However, infrequent testing and paucity of research assessing the effectiveness of shock chlorination guidance as...

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Review of Food Safety Interventions and Evaluation in Food Service Establishments

Topics: Food General, Canada 

The public health and economic implications for foodborne illness in industrialized nations can be costly. Food service establishments (FSEs) are major settings for foodborne pathogen exposure in developed countries due to high consumption of food prepared outside homes. To reduce foodborne illness risks, many health authorities implement food safety interventions in FSEs in order to modify food...

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Reducing cardiovascular health impacts from traffic-related noise and air pollution: intervention strategies

Recent studies suggest that exposure to both traffic-related air pollution (TrAP) and to road traffic noise (RTN) are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). While the exact pathophysiologic mechanisms are not known, plausible biological models exist for both associations. This paper describes interventions and mitigating measures aimed at reducing both air and noise pollution...

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Understanding microbial indicators for drinking water assessment - revised

Boil water advisories are issued when water testing detects higher than accepted amounts of microbial indicators or when there are deficiencies with water treatment. The fear of not issuing a boil water advisory when there is truly a health risk associated with water consumption can lead water operators to call for boil water advisories as a precautionary measure. Yet, issuance of boil water...

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Health Effects from Mould Exposure in Indoor Environments - revised

Moulds are naturally occurring and widespread in the environment; therefore, it is not possible to eliminate exposure. Sufficient evidence exists to conclude that exposure to mould in indoor environments is associated with asthma and asthma-like symptoms (in asthmatic people), upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough and wheeze, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis in susceptible people. There is...

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Perceived and Potential Human Health Risks Associated with Consumption of Genetically Modified Animals (University of Guelph Master of Public Health Program)

Topics: Food General, Canada 

Numerous varieties of genetically modified (GM) crops have been approved in Canada, and processed foods containing GM ingredients can be found on grocery store shelves. In contrast, there are currently no GM animals or products derived from GM animals approved for human consumption in Canada. According to the principle of substantial equivalence, which is used to evaluate the safety of GM foods...

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Cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization at PSEs - revised*

Health concerns regarding the transmission of infections at personal service establishments (PSEs) are often mitigated by public health inspectors (environmental health officers). Inspection of PSEs are carried out to ensure that premises have adequate cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization protocols to reduce the risk of transmitting pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),...

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Infections Associated with Personal Service Establishments: Piercing and Tattooing

Piercing and tattooing are associated with bacterial and viral infections, typically localized to the pierced or tattooed site. Individuals with pre-existing heart conditions are at risk of developing infective endocarditis, a systemic infection involving the outer lining of the heart, when obtaining invasive procedures, such as piercing and tattooing. There is a lack of published literature on...

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Surveillance for Emerging Infectious Diseases: A Canadian Perspective (UBC Bridge Program)

Surveillance approaches for emerging zoonotic infectious diseases is less well developed than for traditional clearly-defined diseases. Zoonotic diseases with recent implications in Canada include: influenza, West Nile Virus (WNV), Lyme Disease (LD), Hantavirus Pulmonary Disease (HPS), and food-borne zoonoses, with influenza having the greatest human impact. Emerging zoonotic disease (EZD)...

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Infections Associated with Personal Service Establishments: Aesthetics

Bacterial infections, particularly mycobacterium infections, are most commonly reported for aesthetic services while viral infections are less reported. No studies associating fungal infections with personal service establishments (PSE) services were found. Limited evidence is available for some infection risks services, including manicures, hair styling, and barbering. Studies related to...

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Household Pets and Zoonoses (University of Guelph Master of Public Health Program)

In addition to dogs and cats, the popularity of exotic animals, such as geckos, bearded dragons, and African Dwarf Frogs is increasing; the greatest increase is ownership among children. It is estimated that approximately 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. The implications of these two trends are of concern to the public health community. A review was conducted of household pet...

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One Health: A Primer (University of Guelph Master of Public Health Program)

Public health events are best dealt with in an interdisciplinary manner with many actors and agencies involved, each lending their expertise to solve the complex problem. Many examples exist of agencies working across boundaries to solve significant public health issues, but the examples are less frequent of agencies that work cross-disciplines. It is not a matter of desire, but one of tradition...

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Heat Advice

Our HeatAdvice project was about the advice provided to the public for protection against heat-related illness. The potential impact of elevated temperatures on mortality and morbidity are severe. Every year, hospitalizations and deaths in numbers well above average, occur during and just after days of extreme heat, particularly in vulnerable populations. HeatAdvice was developed by the NCCEH...

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Systematic Review of Environmental Burden of Disease in Canada

Few studies have estimated the environmental burden of disease (EBD) in Canada. Available data suggest that the total EBD for high-income, developed countries, like Canada, may range from as low as 1 – 5% to as high as 15 – 22%, depending on how EBD is calculated and defined. Potentially preventable illnesses and deaths resulting from exposure to environmental contaminants have been estimated to...

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Tanning and Skin Cancer: A Brief Review (UBC Bridge Program)

The prevalence of intentional solar tanning in Canada ranges from 4 to 49% depending on age and sex. The prevalence of tanning using artificial tanning devices in Canada ranges from 4 to 27% depending on age and sex. Both solar and artificial tanning are much more frequent in younger persons and in females. Although both solar and artificial ultraviolet radiation is categorized as a human...

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Potential Human Health Effects of Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) (UBC Bridge Program)

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are stain, water and grease repellent chemicals found in a wide range of consumer products. Almost everyone has detectable levels of PFOS, PFOA, and other PFCs in their blood. Although levels of PFOS and PFOA in human serum have declined in the US and Europe over the past decade, levels...

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Residential Use of Wood-Burning Appliances in Canada

This report summarizes information on woodsmoke emissions and health effects associated with woodsmoke exposures from residential wood-burning (RWB) in Canada and provides a qualitative indication of the potential effectiveness of different intervention strategies based on a review of the available literature and interviews with Canadian health authorities. The purpose of this report is to...

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Introduction to air quality advisories

Air quality advisories are a mechanism by which provincial and regional governments actively provide the public with information on hourly or daily periods of poor outdoor air quality. Advisories are issued for specific geographical locations when one or more pollutants approach or exceed (or are forecasted to approach/exceed) a relevant air quality trigger. Advisories inform the public about...

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Waxing Promising Practices Fact Sheet

Waxing can draw blood and body fluid from the skin. If this occurs, there is a potential to transmit viral, bacterial, and fungal infectionsbetween the technician and the client, as well as between clients. Folliculitis (infection of the hair follicle), irritant dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and general skin irritation can also occur. These health risks can be minimized by using proper...

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Hog Farms and Their Impact on the Quality of Life of People Living in Rural Areas

Public health professionals are increasingly concerned about hog farms and their impacts on the quality of life in rural areas. The potential impacts of hog farms are raising questions about environmental health. On the one hand, their potential impacts are being put forward by citizens during public debates on hog production.On the other hand, the presence of these controversies raises concerns...

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Residential Indoor Radon Testing

Radon is a known carcinogen, and is estimated to cause up to 10% of all lung cancers in Canada. It is a radioactive gas that is produced by the decay of uranium. Radon is naturally occurring, and emanates from soil and rocks. It percolates up through soil into buildings, and if it is not evacuated there can be much higher exposure levels indoors than outdoors. Fortunately, high radon levels can...

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Current Evidence on the Effectiveness of Interventions During Heat Episodes

This summary provides current evidence on the effect iveness of a variety of described heat interventions by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each. The authors argue that in the absence of a formal evaluation of effectiveness, and given the limited evaluations of interventions so far accomplished, it is difficult to present a complete review on this topic. The authors also caution...

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Human health risk assessments addressing artificial turf and crumb rubber

[please note that a printer friendly version of this page is attached below] Background Public concern regarding the potential toxicological effects of exposure to artificial turf pitches has led to the publication of numerous human health risk assessments (HHRAs) on styrene-butadiene crumb rubber, the most common infill material used in these installations. An HHRA is a systematic, evidence-...

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Radon: Public Health and Cancer Prevention

Video Transcript In Canada, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer but what is radon and what can public health do about it? Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally when uranium and soils break down. During this process, radon decays into radioactive alpha particles.  When inhaled, this radiation can break DNA bonds of cells inside the lungs. As DNA damage increases, the risk...

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Finding Safe Drinking Water in an Emergency

Video Transcript Disasters can cause disruption to water supplies affecting homes, businesses and public services. Are you prepared for a water emergency?  This video will teach you how to access safe drinking water in an emergency. The recommended emergency water supply for drinking, cooking, washing and other needs is four liters per person per day for at least three days. An emergency water...

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Extreme Heat can be a Killer

Video Transcript Canada is experiencing more extremely hot days and longer periods of heat than during the late 20th century and it is going to get worse. Every year, about people die from heat related causes in Canada's big cities. In 2009, Vancouver saw a dramatic increase in the death rate during a week-long extreme heat event. Rather than simply extreme temperatures, it can be just the...

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Public Health Planning for Wildfire Smoke

Population level wildfire smoke exposure is complex. It is difficult to measure and prevent. Reducing the adverse physical and mental health effects related to smoke exposure requires insight into social, economic, political and health-related factors within communities. In an attempt to understand some of the challenges of planning for wildfire smoke events, this report outlines the findings...

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Controlling giant hogweed: the scope of a concerted regional intervention

Giant hogweed is an invasive alien plant that can severely burn the skin. The plant is not yet very prevalent in Bas-SaintLaurent, and intervention in the region to date has focused on eradicating it during the first stage of its invasion. To that end, a consultation process was undertaken in 2015 under the leadership of the public health authority and the regional development collective (CRD),...

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ROOMING HOUSES 2017: Highlights of a study by Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal and Direction de l’habitation de la Ville de Montréal

The investigation was conducted in summer 2017 and focused on rooming house residents in five central boroughs of the Ville de Montréal: Côte‑des‑Neiges–Notre‐Dame‐de‐Grâce, Le Sud‐Ouest, Ville‐Marie, Rosemont–La Petite‑Patrie and Mercier–Hochelaga‑Maisonneuve. Of the 125 rooming houses listed in these areas, 52 or them were selected at random to form the participant sample. In total, 274...

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What are buzz buttons and what are the known risks associated with exposure to them?

Topics: Food General, Canada 

Primary inquiry Buzz buttons were seen on the menu for a special event at which food was served. An environmental health officer inquired about the following:   What are buzz buttons and how are they consumed and used? What are the known risks associated with exposure to buzz buttons? What are the current regulations regarding the use of buzz buttons? Background The term buzz button refers to...

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Testing for Lead In School Drinking Water: A Summary of Sampling Protocols

Low level lead exposure has been linked to neurobehavioral and cognitive effects in children.1 No “safe” level of lead exposure exists and efforts should be made to reduce exposures to as low as possible. The phasing out of lead in gasoline, residential paints, and solder in food cans has substantially decreased blood lead levels among the general population, but residual sources still exist....

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Cyanobacteria and Drinking Water: Occurrence, Risks, Management and Knowledge Gaps for Public Health

With warming temperatures due to climate change and increased nutrient loads to freshwater systems, the occurrence of harmful algal blooms, largely associated with toxin-producing cyanobacteria, is expected to increase across Canada. While cyanoblooms have affected Canadian waterbodies for many years, the potential to negatively impact drinking water supplies is considered an emerging area of...

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Indigenous Food Safety and Security: Community Adaptations in the Wake of Climate Pressures

As ecosystems try to adapt to climate volatility, so are Indigenous communities striving to become more food self-sufficient — both in reaction to and in anticipation of further climate pressures. This has led some communities to develop alternative food preservation and growing options, adaptations of their own that can help address limited financial resources or access to physical assets. This...

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Microbial Risks and Canadian Regulations For Specialty Ethnic Foods: Ceviche

Topics: Food General, Canada 

Ceviche is a popular dish in Central and South America, and is rapidly gaining popularity in Canada and the US. Typically, raw fish or shellfish such as shrimp or scallops are marinated in lime or other citrus juices until the flesh firms up and turns opaque, although cooked seafood can also be used. It is then mixed with seasonings and other ingredients and eaten as a snack or appetizer. This...

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Microbial Risks and Canadian Regulations For Specialty Ethnic Foods: Pork Dinakdakan

Topics: Food General, Canada 

Dinakdakan is a popular appetizer dish originating from the Ilocos region in the Philippines. This dish typically consists of cooked pig organs such as ears,liver, face, stomach, and/or intestines, but can be made with other cuts of meat. Pig brain is typically used to thicken and bind the ingredients together,although in North America, pig brain is difficult to find so mayonnaise may be used in...

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Foodbook Report

Topics: Food General, Canada 

Outbreaks associated with widely-distributed food products can have important health and economic impacts in Canada. These outbreaks also affect the health of Canadians and may impact the public's confidence in the food safety system. One of the challenges facing the Public Health Agency of Canada (the Agency) in identifying the source of multi-jurisdictional outbreaks has been the availability...

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Equity in EH Workshop Toolkit: Health equity knowledge to action

The Equity in Environmental Public Health Workshop Toolkit, created by the BC Centre for Disease Control, is a collection of readymade, customizable resources that can be used to create a professional development or planning session for staff and management on health equity in environmental health.   This Toolkit supports managers and other environmental public health (EPH) leaders to facilitate...

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Equity in EH Workshop Toolkit: Introduction to health equity

The Equity in Environmental Public Health Workshop Toolkit, created by the BC Centre for Disease Control, is a collection of readymade, customizable resources that can be used to create a professional development or planning session for staff and management on health equity in environmental health.   This Toolkit supports managers and other environmental public health (EPH) leaders to facilitate...

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Equity in EH Workshop Toolkit: Building organizational capacity for health equity

The Equity in Environmental Public Health Workshop Toolkit, created by the BC Centre for Disease Control, is a collection of readymade, customizable resources that can be used to create a professional development or planning session for staff and management on health equity in environmental health.This Toolkit supports managers and other environmental public health (EPH) leaders to facilitate...

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Experiences with BC First Nations community-based radon testing: Successes and lessons learned

This paper describes the key components of a three-year, on-reserve, community-wide residential radon testing project involving three Interior BC First Nations communities that resulted in an impressive 97% response rate for radon testing. The paper highlights the activities and considerations that led to the success of this program and offers insights into how testing rates can be increased for...

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Fact sheet: Environmental Health Risks of Personal Cannabis Cultivation

Personal cultivation as described by the Cannabis Act (2017) will permit adults to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household as of October 17, 2018. The Canadian Federal government will be responsible for regulating and enforcing industry-wide standards for commercial producers, while the provinces and territories will be responsible for overseeing the distribution and sale of cannabis...

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Public Health Responses to Wildfire Smoke Events

The public health response to wildfire smoke events is complex, involving inter-sectoral collaboration, community engagement and the use of many sources of information in decision-making. The focus of this project is to understand the perceptions, challenges and needs of public health practitioners in Canada when responding to wildfire smoke events. The project was undertaken as part of the...

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Guidance for the Environmental Public Health Management of Crude Oil Incidents

Crude oil spills/releases, alone or in combination with combustion/explosion of the oil, have been the cause of several major disasters in Canada and around the world including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 1989 grounding of the Exxon Valdez . The 2013 Lac-Mégantic, QC derailment was the most significant disaster involving crude oil in Canadian history, and left 47 dead, a...

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Beyond Zoonosis: The Mental Health Impacts of Rat Exposure of Inner-City Residents

This work was one of the 2018 Ron de Burger Student Award winners.  Author: Raymond Lam, University of British Columbia – Master of Science in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene Introduction Rats are a common problem in cities worldwide, but impoverished, inner-city neighborhoods are disproportionately affected because factors associated with poverty promote rat infestations and rat-human...

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Computer Keyboards Transmitting More Than Words: A Knowledge Synthesis of Computer Keyboards in Hospitals as a Reservoir for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infection

This work was one of the 2018 Ron de Burger Student Award winners.  Author: Saarah Hussain, University of Guelph, Master of Public Health Introduction Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a pathogen that leads to a severe staph skin infection and is an emerging public health threat as it is multi-drug resistant Results MRSA is often a nosocomial or hospital-acquired infection...

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Exploring the Relationship between the Built Environment and Social Isolation and Loneliness: Implications for Public Policy

This work was one of the 2018 Ron de Burger Student Award winners.  Author: Amber Gillespie, University of Guelph, Master of Public Health Introduction Social isolation and loneliness is a significant predictor of adverse physical and mental health outcomes Though our knowledge of the contextual factors contributing to social isolation and loneliness in Western  culture is increasing, one area...

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Canadian Databases for Ticks and Mosquitoes

The NCCID and NCCEH have compiled a list of provincial and territorial mosquito and tick datasets including what information the databases contain and who to contact to access the data. This dataset list provides a quick reference for public health practitioners and modellers who wish to investigate seasonal and long-term patterns and changes in mosquitos and ticks and the potential for...

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March 2018 Environmental Health Research Scan

Full Scan  The attached PDF version of the Research Scan has over 100 references and is broken into over 30 categories. Editor’s Picks After searching through the dozens of articles referenced in the scan, our librarian picks the ones she feels may be especially interesting to our stakeholders.  Her “Editor Picks” for March 2018 include: Wildfires, emergency preparedness, and the importance of...

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April 2018 Environmental Health Research Scan

Full Scan The attached PDF version of the Research Scan has over 100 references and is broken into over 30 categories. Editor’s Picks After searching through the dozens of articles referenced in the scan, our librarian picks the ones she feels may be especially interesting to our stakeholders.  Her “Editor Picks” for April 2018 include: The built environment: Understanding how physical...

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February 2018 Environmental Health Research Scan

Full Scan The attached PDF version of the Research Scan has over 100 references and is broken into over 30 categories. Editor’s Picks After searching through the dozens of articles referenced in the scan, our librarian picks the ones she feels may be especially interesting to our stakeholders.  Her “Editor Picks” for February 2018 include: A review of the experimental evidence on the...

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January 2018 Environmental Health Research Scan

Full Scan The attached PDF version of the Research Scan has over 100 references and is broken into over 30 categories. Editor’s Picks After searching through the dozens of articles referenced in the scan, our librarian picks the ones she feels may be especially interesting to our stakeholders.  Her “Editor Picks” for January 2018 include: Adverse effects after medical, commercial, or self-...

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Growing at Home: Health and Safety Concerns for Personal Cannabis Cultivation

Personal cultivation as described by the proposed Cannabis Act (2017) will permit adults to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household. This provision is intended to both promote equity by facilitating access to legal cannabis, particularly when retail outlets are difficult to access, and to undercut the black market. However, indoor cultivation and processing of cannabis may also...

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Odour from a Compost Facility

[please note that a printable version of this Field Inquiry is linked at the bottom] Primary inquiry A citizen’s group reported that putrid smells were occurring daily from a local commercial compost facility located in a suburban area of the city. The local public health agency was contacted to provide information to answer the following questions: What types of contaminants are potentially...

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Meat-packing Pads as Tattoo Dressings

Primary inquiry: Is there evidence for or against the use of clean vs. sterile dressings in the care of tattoos?

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Adverse effects after medical, commercial, or self-administered colon cleansing procedures

Primary inquiry: What information is available regarding the environmental health-related risks of colonics in the academic literature, and how can environmental health practitioners help reduce these risks?

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Infection Control for Tebori Tattooing

Primary inquiry: Information regarding tebori, a traditional form of Japanese “hand-poke” tattooing; requesting information regarding infection control and inspection.

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Cemetery Setback Distances to Prevent Surface Water Contamination

Primary inquiry: In Canada, as in many other countries, cemeteries are required to be setback a certain distance from waterbodies to protect drinking water sources from contaminated liquids that can arise from the decomposition of bodies after burial. What is recommended as a safe setback distance? What is the rationale for the setback distances used throughout Canada?

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Irrigating Food Crops with Water Containing Cyanobacteria Blooms

Primary inquiry: Small horticulture growers have been watering their crops with surface water containing a cyanobacterial bloom, before selling their crops at local markets. Can irrigation of food crops using surface water affected by cyanobacteria blooms result in bioaccumulation of cyanotoxins in these crops? Can cyanotoxins bioaccumulate to a concentration that might cause a public health...

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Food Deserts and Food Swamps: A Primer

Topics: Equity, Food General, Canada 

Our food environments, which include the food that is available to us in our day-to-day environments, is a determinant of what we eat as individuals. This document is intended for environmental public health professionals, including medical health officers and public health inspectors, as well as other public health professionals such as public health dietitians and health promoters, whose work...

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Food Issues: Notes from the Field

Topics: Food General, Canada 

Food Issues: Notes from the Field is a collection of food safety assessments the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has provided in response to inquiries made by Environmental Health Officers. Example assessments include safety concerns associated with kombucha tea, raw carob powder in raw foods, and unwashed bakery couche (linens). These opinions, created by food safety...

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Identifying and Addressing the Public Health Risks of Splash Parks

Splash parks, also known as splash pads, spray parks, or wet decks, have gained in popularity over the last decade. These interactive parks are artificially created depressions or basins into which water is sprayed, splashed or poured onto visitors; water is not permitted to accumulate, but instead drains immediately out of the play area. Splash parks may take one of two basic designs, which...

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Cyanobacteria in Freshwater

What are cyanobacteria? Are cyanoblooms preventable? Who is at risk and how does exposure occur? Is there testing for cyanotoxins? This NCCEH document provides a brief outline of these key questions related to cyanobacteria and the toxins they produce.

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Going Underground: Electrical Substations and Health

Concerned citizens and municipal authorities contacted their public health region about a proposal by an electrical utility company to build an underground electrical substation in an urban area, near to an elementary school and playground. 1. Background – substations and electromagnetic fields2. Literature search3. What are the health implications of exposure to ELF magnetic fields?4. What is...

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Evaluating the Carbon Monoxide Monitoring and Response Framework in Long-term Care Facilities: A Brief Guide

This guide is intended for public health practitioners, facility/property maintenance managers, risk managers, occupational hygienists, clinicians, or other persons working at long-term care facilities (residential care facilities, nursing homes, seniors’ residences, care occupancies, etc.) when they: have implemented a carbon monoxide (CO) policy in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) consistent...

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Using a Hierarchy of Evidence to Assess Chemical Health Risks of Artificial Turf

Over the past 40 years, artificial turf has become common in public and private settings. Compared to natural turf, artificial turf is easier to maintain, requires less water and no fertilizer, and provides a year-round access to playing surfaces. This is presumed to have important public health benefits by promoting physical activity and access to recreational space, although detailed research...

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Guide for Implementing the Carbon Monoxide Monitoring and Response Framework in Long-term Care Facilities

This guide is intended for public health practitioners, facility/property maintenance managers, risk managers, occupational hygienists, clinicians, or other persons working at long-term care facilities (residential care facilities, nursing homes, seniors’ residences, care occupancies, etc.) who would like to implement a program to reduce the risk of indoor carbon monoxide (CO) exposure to...

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Key resources for environmental public health practitioners to address health equity: A curated list

Public health organizations across Canada have highlighted health inequities as a priority area for action.  Environmental public health practitioners may be unclear of how to approach health inequities within their scope of practice because they have often not been included in discussions about how public health can do this work. This list contains resources specific to environmental public...

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Toward health equity: Practical actions for Public Health Inspectors

NCCEH, the NCC for Determinants of Health, and the BC Centre for Disease Control have collaborated to produce a Framework and accompanying User Guide to help environmental public health practitioners identify potential actions on the social determinants of health and health equity. Environmental health practitioners can play a role to address the social determinants of health (SDH) and work...

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Float Tanks: Review of Current Guidance and Considerations for Public Health Inspectors

The growing popularity of “floatation” and the ways in which this practice differs from the use of pools and spas have raised interesting questions in environmental public health. Public health agencies in the US and Canada have taken very different approaches to the classification and regulation (or non-regulation) of these facilities. Continuing engagement amongst environmental health...

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Float Tanks: Considerations for Environmental Public Health

Floatation refers to a meditative activity in which users float in a high-density Epsom salt solution in a dark, quiet environment. Because float tanks are distinct from swimming pools and other recreational water, questions have been raised regarding the need for and efficacy of various disinfection methods. Although direct evidence is lacking, pathogen kill assays and field studies from...

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Summary: Radiofrequency and Health

This summary is based on the "Radiofrequency Toolkit for Environmental Health Practitioners" (2013) available on the BCCDC website, developed in response to requests from BC’s medical and environmental health officers for assistance in assessing and communicating the risk to health from exposure to the many devices which emit radiofrequency waves.

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Understanding the Public Health Implications Concerning Shale Gas Production and Hydraulic Fracturing

The intent of this document is to synthesize scientific information related to public health concerns of relevance to Canada about shale gas production (including the pre-production stages of drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and well completion, as well as abandonment). Current policy and regulations are not considered. For the most part, the environmental and public health implications relating...

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Food Environments: An Introduction for Public Health Practice

Topics: Food General, Canada 

This document was written for environmental public health practitioners (environmental health officers and public health inspectors), as well as other public health professionals whose work relates to healthy environments (e.g., medical health officers, public health dietitians, health promotion professionals). It introduces the concept of food environments, highlights some key evidence for the...

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Summary: Animals as Sentinels for Public Health Risks from Oil and Gas Development

This document was based on a contracted review: Animals as Sentinels for Public Health Risks Associated with Oil and Gas Development by Craig Stephen and Tyler Stitt, March 2014.

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Green Space and Mental Health: Pathways, Impacts and Gaps

Around the globe, mental health disorders are a significant and growing cause of ill health and early death, with the burden of such diseases increasing by more than a third between 1990 and 2010. Almost a third of all Canadians have experienced a mental illness at some point during their lifetimes. A Statistics Canada survey reported the most commonly reported illnesses to be mood disorders,...

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Equity in Environmental Health Practice: Findings of a Pilot Study

Public health inspectors (PHIs) are environmental health professionals who carry out inspections, enforce health protection regulations, and provide environmental health education and training. This qualitative study explored the role of environmental public health practitioners in addressing the social determinants of health (SDH) and health equity related issues that may present as barriers to...

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Case Study of a Persistent Landfill Fire and Community Health Impacts

This case study explores the issue of health impacts in the community from persistent landfill fires and covers a number of topics including: outdoor air pollution; waste management; health equity; health surveillance; environmental surveillance; and occupational health. Although written from a broad public health and medical health officers’ point of view, this case study may be helpful to...

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Review of Field Tests on Bed Bug Control Technologies

Economic, environmental, and health concerns with bed bug control technologies and management options are of interest to public health and pest management agencies, who often receive and need to respond to inquiries regarding bed bugs (Hemiptera: Cimex). However, control technologies are constantly changing as evidence emerges for evaluating their efficacy/feasibility and acceptance by...

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Effective Indoor Air Interventions

Canadians typically spend about 90% of their time indoors. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) resulting from biological and chemical exposures is associated with the development of acute and chronic cardio-respiratory disease. Biological agents commonly found in indoor environments include mould, house dust mites (HDM), pests, and pet dander. Chemical agents can include environmental tobacco smoke (...

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Phosphine Poisoning as an Unintended Consequence of Bed Bug Treatment

Recent news on Canadian fatalities linked to the inappropriate use of phosphine for bed bug control underlines the need for public health practitioners to be aware of the issue.

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NCCEH Mould Investigation Toolkit

Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) and Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) across Canada have different responsibilities, policies, and guidelines when it comes to investigating public inquiries about mould in indoor environments. Some PHIs/EHOs conduct initial walkthroughs only, some conduct comprehensive investigations, and others educate the public about next steps without conducting any field...

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Community Water Fluoridation in Canada – Trends, Benefits, and Risks (University of Guelph Master of Public Health Program)

Fluoride has been added to public drinking water in Canadian communities since the 1940s as a means of preventing tooth decay. Dental fluorosis is a known adverse effect of excessive fluoride exposure during tooth formation. Fluorosis ranges from barely noticeable whitish striations in the enamel to severe pitting and brownish staining. In general, the prevalence of dental fluorosis in...

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Cardiovascular Health, Traffic-related Air Pollution and Noise: Are associations mutually confounded? A systematic review

This review assessed the confounding effect of one traffic-related exposure (noise or air pollutants) on the association between the other exposure and cardiovascular outcomes. A systematic review was conducted with the databases Medline and Embase. The confounding effects in studies were assessed by using change in the estimate with a 10 % cutoff point. The influence on the change in the...

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Wind Turbines and Health - revised

Noise and Low Frequency SoundThe sound level associated with wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to damage hearing, but may lead to annoyance and sleep disturbance. Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)Wind turbines are not significant sources of EMF exposure. Shadow FlickerShadows caused by wind turbine rotors can be annoying, but are not likely to cause epileptic seizures at...

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Prevention, identification, and treatment options for the management of bed bug infestations

In the past decade, bed bug infestations have been increasing worldwide. Historically, studies have failed to provide evidence for the transmission of human diseases through bed bugs, but recent evidence is lacking. Although physical reactions to bed bug bites continue to be documented, evidence regarding the mental health effects arising from bed bug infestations is limited to anecdotes and...

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Bed Bugs and Public Health: New Approaches for an Old Scourge

The objective of this paper is to share four Canadian cities’ experiences with bed bug infestations and to explore public health roles in managing them. We summarize presentations from a workshop at the 2010 Canadian Public Health Association Conference which examined the re-emergence of bed bugs in Canada and compared management approaches of municipal and public health authorities in four...

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Intersection between the Built and Social Environments and Older Adults’ Mobility

Inevitably, an aging population will demand significant health and economic costs at personal and societal levels. Emerging evidence highlights that built and social environments both play a role in older adults’ mobility, community engagement and health. It may be the interaction between the person, the built environment, and elements of the social environment that encourage or dissuade an...

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Forest Residues to Energy: Is this a pathway towards healthier communities? (UBC Bridge Program)

Forest residues are non-merchantable woody biomass found in forests and wood waste from logging practices and industrial operations, such as sawmills. Forest residues are a convenient fuel for open-burning and conventional biomass burning systems (e.g., fireplaces and wood stoves), but more recently have been considered as a fuel for advanced wood combustion (AWC) integrated energy systems, used...

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Water-borne Disease Outbreaks in Canadian Small Drinking Water Systems

Information about Canadian drinking water systems and past water-borne disease outbreaks is incomplete and non-standardized. Standard definitions and coordinated surveillance systems for water-borne disease outbreaks would help inform policy and practice. A relatively high proportion of past water-borne disease outbreaks in Canada are estimated to have occurred in small drinking water systems...

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Air Quality Assessment Tools: A Guide for Public Health Practitioners

Several tools exist to assess local air quality, including the impact of specific sources, emissions, and meteorological conditions. Information generated from the use of air quality assessment tools can inform decisions on permitting of emissions, industrial siting, and land use; all can impact local air quality, which in turn can influence air pollution related health effects of a population....

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Reducing Residential Indoor Exposure to Pesticides: a Toolkit for Practitioners

The scientific literature indicates that avoidance of pesticide use and alternative practices, such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM), may be effective methods for reducing indoor residential pesticide exposure. Safe use of pesticides, indoors and outdoors, involves following label directions and taking precautionary measures, such as wearing gloves and protective clothing. Track-in and take-...

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Air Quality and Community Health Impact of Animal Manure Management (UBC Bridge Program)

Nearly 200 million tonnes of livestock manure are generated in Canada each year.1 Manure storage and land application tends to produce odour, greenhouse gases, microbes, and particulate matter, which can negatively impact the environment and human health. Occupational exposures of manure management have been linked to psychological stress and adverse effects on the respiratory system and heart...

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Community Planning with a Health Equity Lens: Promising Directions and Strategies (UBC Bridge Program)

Community planning has the potential to reduce health inequities. Applying an equity lens to community health planning can encourage greater focus on the process, the implications, and suggested outcomes. Health inequalities are unavoidable; health inequities are differences in health outcomes that are avoidable. Efforts to create vibrant and healthy communities, cities, and neighbourhoods are...

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Fact Sheets for Promoting Healthy Built Environments

This set of fact sheets provides an overview of Healthy Built Environment issues for Environmental Health professionals (EHPs include public health inspectors, environmental health officers, and medical health officers). The aim is to help EHPs collaborate with other stakeholders to promote a Healthy Built Environment (HBE).

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Minimizing Children’s Non-residential Exposure to Traffic-related Pollution (UBC Bridge Program)

A significant portion of children’s exposure to traffic-related pollution occurs in and around schools and daycares and in transit to these locations. New schools and daycare facilities should be located at least 150 m from major roads (15,000 or more vehicles/day) and should incorporate appropriate ventilation systems to reduce infiltration of outdoor pollutants. Interventions for existing...

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Are Naturally Ventilated LEED Buildings Healthier? (UBC Bridge Program)

Green building rating systems such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) employ a variety of design solutions to reduce energy and minimize environmental damage. These solutions, such as the use of passive ventilation, do not necessarily lead to improvements in occupant health Passive ventilation strategies employed to reduce energy can lead to uneven airflow distribution and...

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Active Transportation in Urban Areas: Exploring Health Benefits and Risks (UBC Bridge Program)

Active transportation refers mainly to walking and cycling for transportation. Health Benefits:  People who use active transportation are, on average, more physically fit, less obese, and have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to people who use only motorized transportation. A shift from motorized transportation to active transportation has the potential for societal benefits...

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Systematic Review of Human Biomonitoring Studies of Environmental Contaminants

This review synthesizes information on biological markers of exposure to environmental contaminants in Canada through a systematic search of the published and grey literature from January 1990 to January 2007, evaluates the studies, and summarizes the information in an easy access format. This review will make the Canadian work on biomonitoring for environmental contaminants more accessible to...

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Comparison of Guidelines and Regulatory Frameworks for Personal Services Establishments

Personal services establishments (PSEs) have been identified as a priority area by public health inspectors (PHIs) and provincial ministry staff in several provinces, as well as by people within the industry. There are a lot of gaps and conflicting information regarding public health issues associated with PSEs. Guidelines and regulations are often vague or impractical. In general, there is a...

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Built Environment Readiness Assessment

How ready is your organization to work in this area? We've developed resource materials to be used as a package or separately. The package includes the following:  Dialogue between a public health physician and a planner (DVD, available on request) 

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Cellular/Mobile Phone Use and Intracranial Tumours

Cell phone use is increasingly prevalent in Canada. Public concerns of a potential associated risk with intracranial tumours have been raised. Further, recent media attention has focused on disparate precautionary policies implemented across jurisdictions in Canada and world-wide. In light of this and emerging epidemiological evidence, we review what is known about cell phone use and...

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How the New Analytical Geomatics Technologies can help Environmental Health Professionals and Decision-makers to make Further use of Mapping than what is offered traditionally by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Web Mapping

This review presents an analysis of geospatial applications in the health field. In this report we focus on the following technologies: spatial dashboard, spatial on line analytical processing (SOLAP), spatial data mining, and spatial data warehouse. Consequently, the report does not include a systematic review of traditional GIS of health practitioners. For environmental health professionals...

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Carbon Dioxide in Indoor Air

A Public Health Inspector calls about an issue flagged at an older elementary school.  As part of a teacher complaint process, the provincial health and safety agency has been conducting a workplace investigation.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were measured and ranged from 412 ppm in an unoccupied classroom to 1,130 ppm in the school library and 1,660 ppm in an occupied classroom that had closed...

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Health Effects of Large LED Screens on Local Residents

In 2011, three high-definition outdoor LED video billboards were erected around a city sports stadium. The residents of the surrounding community are exposed to the lighted images of these screens when they are illuminated. A representative of a community organization advocating to remove the video screens has asked the Chief Medical Health Officer of the local health department whether the...

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Nematodes for Pest Control

A provincial Health Ministry has been asked by the Ministry of the Environment to advise on the health risks associated with use of nematodes to control the cranberry girdler, an insect that has been affecting the economic viability of provincial cranberry production. You are assigned the development of a response as part of your practicum with the Ministry of Health. Here is an outline of...

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Pepper Spray in the Indoor Environment and in the Vicinity of Food Products and Preparation Surfaces

Pepper spray is discharged during an attempted robbery of a jewellery store in a large urban mall.  The robbery site is located next to the mall’s food court.  For several days, mall patrons continue to report uncomfortable symptoms (e.g., burning sensation in their eyes and throat) when they enter the food court.  Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) are asked to respond to concerns about...

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Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) - revised

A Public Health Inspector (PHI) has raised a concern about a local middle school with a small, poorly ventilated computer room containing computers over 10 years old. The PHI has read that brominated flame retardants used in computers can affect reproductive health and is concerned about many students and teachers who spend 20-50% of their school week in this room. What is the issue?What are...

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Pool Chlorination and Closure Guidelines

As an EH director at a local health authority, helping to review provincial guidelines on swimming pools, you want to know if scientific evidence supports pool closure orders when free available chlorine (FAC) is found to be at or above 10 ppm. Should the level be different and are there other factors to be considered for closure, instead of or in addition to FAC? What is Free Available Chlorine...

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Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Trigger for Investigation On June 18, 2010 a commercial harvester advised an inspection specialist at CFIA of four cases of suspect PSP-related illness that occurred June 17, 2010. CFIA began an investigation and trace-back and advised relevant public health authorities of illnesses to ensure follow-up of cases. You are the epidemiologist working at the local health authority where the cases...

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Workshops Presentations

Inuit and Metis radon research across the country

Radon, an odorless, colourless, radioactive gas, is an established carcinogen and the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Radon poses a health risk for indoor environments, particularly in rooms on ground or basement levels where the gas can enter through cracks in the foundation. Health Canada has been measuring radon levels in homes and workplaces and elevated levels of radon have...

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