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

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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 physical...

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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 better...

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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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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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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

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 emitted in air from commercial composting facilities? What causes odours associated with...

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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 other...

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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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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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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 such...

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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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