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Air


Determining factors that impact indoor and outdoor air quality, including mould, radon, VOCs, and criteria air contaminants.

Project

Wildfire Smoke and Health

The frequency and intensity of Canadian wildfires is increasing as a consequence of the changing global climate, as well as long-standing forest management practices (Flannigan et al., 2013). Fires pose a direct threat to lives and properties in some communities, and also cause episodes of extreme smoke pollution that threaten the health of populations over large geographic areas. Wildfire smoke...

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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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Carbon Monoxide in Long-Term Care Facilities

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless, and non-irritating gas that is harmful to humans. As a by-product of incomplete combustion, CO is produced by fuel-burning appliances including boilers, furnaces, fireplaces, kitchen stoves, and laundry dryers. Cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust also contribute to indoor CO levels. At low levels of exposure, symptoms can include headache, nausea...

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Mould

Topics: Air, Indoor Air 

Mould is a ubiquitous fungus in outdoor environments that inevitably makes its way indoors. The general population is commonly exposed to mould through inhalation, and less commonly through direct contact, with no adverse effects. However, individuals with asthma or other underlying respiratory ailments may show sensitivity to mould or its cellular components that may trigger respiratory tract...

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Document

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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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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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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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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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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Effective Interventions to Reduce Indoor Radon Levels

Radon represents one of the environmental exposures that can be reduced with effective and practical solutions, reducing an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer. There is extensive literature supporting the cost-effectiveness of radon abatement compared with other healthcare and environmental interventions. Of the remediation measures evaluated to reduce indoor radon levels in already...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Nanotechnology: A Review of Exposure, Health Risks and Recent Regulatory Developments

Nanotechnology is the creation of materials, devices, and systems by controlling matter at the nanometer scale (1-100 billionths of a meter). Potential exposures to engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) through contact with consumer products or air, water, and food sources are an emerging potential threat to human health. ENPs have unique properties and characteristics in addition to size, such as a...

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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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Residential Air Cleaner Use to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Health: A Review of the Evidence

Air cleaners are designed to remove pollutants from indoor air, but their effectiveness depends on the air cleaner design and set-up, as well as on the presence of specific pollutants, their concentrations, and air exchange rates in the room/home. Ozone generators and some electrostatic precipitators produce ozone at levels that pose health concerns. Little evidence is available on removal of...

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Adverse Cardiovascular Health Effects of Exposure to Short-Term Air Pollution

Based on appraisals of recent systematic reviews and patient information, this report provides an overview of: 1) evidence available to generate health protection measures; 2) health protection advice currently recommended to persons with/at risk of cardio-vascular diseases through public health, medical, patient information, environmental, and meteorological websites; and 3) a general framework...

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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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Cardiovascular Effects of Sub-daily Levels of Ambient Fine Particles

Topics: Air, Outdoor Air 

While the effects of daily fine particulate exposure (PM) have been well reviewed, the epidemiological and physiological evidence of cardiovascular effects associated to sub-daily exposures has not. We performed a theoretical model-driven systematic non-meta-analytical literature review to document the association between PM sub-daily exposures (≤6 hours) and arrhythmia, ischemia and myocardial...

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Recommendations for Safe Re-occupancy of Marijuana Grow Operations

The following guide offers a practical approach to achieving safe re-occupancy of former marijuana grow operations (MGOs) and reviews possible exposures/hazards (tables 1 and 2). It is essential to make a clear distinction between risks associated with an “active” MGO and risks associated with a “shut down” MGO. An “active” MGO is linked to criminal activity, which in itself poses safety risks,...

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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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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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Workshops Presentations

Infiltration of air pollutants and effectiveness of cleaners

L'Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ) 8e Atelier de santé environnementale

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Forest Fires: Impacts on Air Quality and Health

Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (New Brunswick Branch) 2010 Annual Conference

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Indoor Air Quality Issues in First Nations and Inuit Communities in Canada

International Union for Circumpolar Health (IUCH) 14th International Congress on Circumpolar Health

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Indoor Air and Air Cleaners: An Inside Look

Public health interventions related to risks associated with exposure to local air pollution sources: control measures and health protection and public education approaches

On Shaky Ground - Evidence of Public Health Impacts from Hydraulic Fracturing

The BCCDC/NCCEH Environmental Health Seminar Series provides an opportunity for learning and knowledge exchange on a variety of environmental health topics. The seminars can be attended in-person or online. Speaker: Anne-Marie Nicol, MES, PhD, Environmental Health Scientist, NCCEH Abstract: This seminar describes the processes involved in shale gas production, including hydraulic fracturing, and...

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Housing, health and the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada

Joint NCCEH/NCCAH Workshop at Canadian Public Health Association Public Health 2015 in Vancouver Successes and challenges in mitigation of radon in urban Aboriginal housing, Prince George, BCLeo Hebert, Executive Director, Prince George Métis Housing Society Insights into on-reserve housingLinda Pillsworth, Manager, Environmental Health Services, First Nations Health Authority Mould...

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An Introduction to Tools Used in Air Quality Assessment

Topics: Air, Outdoor Air BC, Canada 

In March 2011, the British Columbia Lung Association held its 8th Annual Air Quality & Health Workshop in Vancouver. As a pre-meeting event, the NCCEH, in combination with the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and the BC Lung Association, organized an air quality training workshop. Workshop Objective The objective of this training workshop was to increase the understanding and...

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Health Promotion in the Context of Health Protection

Housing and Health: How can Community Health Nurses intervene?

Presentation: Housing and HealthTom Kosatsky, NCCEHMona Shum, NCCEH

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Carbon Monoxide Monitoring in Long Term Care Facilities and Hospitals

Saskatoon 2013  Presentations: Carbon monoxide exposures in long-term care facilities and hospitals: Developing a monitoring frameworkPrabjit Barn & Tom Kosatsky, BCCDC/NCCEH Modeling of the Kinetics of Carbon Monoxide for Long Term Care Facilities and HospitalsNathalie Gosselin, Pharsight Consulting ServicesMichele Bouchard, University of Montreal CO Exposure – St. Mary’s Villa, December 26...

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Evaluating a Novel Carbon Monoxide Monitoring Framework in Long-Term Care Facilities

The Ontario Public Health Convention (TOPHC) 2016 This poster highlights the findings from our evaluation of Saskatoon Health Region’s carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring policy in 10 long-term care facilities (LTCFs). Presenter: Daniel Fong

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Indoor Air Quality: Interpreting Assessment Results

Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI) 79th Annual National Educational Conference Presentations General indoor air quality parameters: CO, CO2, relative humidity, temperatureDru Sahai, Public Health Ontario Volatile organic compoundsPrabjit Barn, NCCEH MouldDaniel Fong, NCCEH RadonPam Warkentin, Radonmatters Additional indoor pollutantsDru Sahai, Public Health Ontario

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Event

Ecohealth Knowledge to Action Research Group (EKTA) - Wildfires and ecosocial determinants of health: Reflections on the experience in the NWT and BC

This webalogue will explore the complex implications of wildfires for the ecosocial determinants of health, exemplified by experiences of recent wildfire events in the NWT and BC. Consideration of wildfire impacts on public health will be explored in relation to environment, social and cultural impacts, with consideration of impacts on communities, wildfire and ecosystems. The session will...

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UBC School of Population and Public Health - How low to go? Assessing the health effects of low levels of air pollution

The best of current research in the Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (OEH) field is presented at these seminars, which run weekly during the academic year. Title: How low to go? Assessing the health effects of low levels of air pollution. The Mortality Air Pollution Associations in Low Exposure environments (MAPLE) project. Presenter: Anders Erickson

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UBC School of Population and Public Health - Indoor air quality and health in Canadian First Nations communities

The best of current research in the Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (OEH) field is presented at these seminars, which run weekly during the academic year. Title: Indoor air quality and health in Canadian First Nations communities Presenter: Karen Bartlett

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UBC School of Population and Public Health - Characterizing the Impacts of Residential Woodsmoke in BC Communities

The best of current research in the Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (OEH) field is presented at these seminars, which run weekly during the academic year. Presenter: Matthew Wagstaff

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Legislation

Public Notification Regulation, BC Reg 202/94

South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act, SBC 1998, c 30

Health Hazards Regulation, Man Reg 29/2009

Smoke-free Places Act, RSNB 2011, c 222

Community Placement Residential Facilities Regulation, NB Reg 83-77

Smoke-free Environment Act, 2005, SNL 2005, c S-16.2