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Contaminants and Hazards


Identifying hazards posed by infectious diseases, chemicals, radiation, and noise, in homes and personal service establishments.

Document

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Workshops Presentations

Power Lines and Health: The Evidence and Public Policy

Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (New Brunswick Branch) 2009 Annual Educational Conference; previous version presented at American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo "09

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Intervention Strategies to Reduce Residential Pesticide Exposures

Wind Turbines and Environmental Assessment

Western Medical Officers of Health Meeting June 2009; previous versions presented at Atlantic Medical Officers of Health Meeting May 2009 and CIPHI (NS/PE Branch) 2009 Annual Educational Session

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Shale gas extraction and public health: What we know, what we can infer, and how we can move forward

Canadian Public Health Association 2014 Conference Presentations: Hydraulic Fracturing & Public Health: What we know, what we can infer and how we can move forward Merry Turtiak, Alberta Health Public Health Review on Shale Gas Activities: Water, Air Contamination and Technology Risk Management Gaétan Carrier, Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) Audrey Smargiassi, INSPQ ...

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Radon: Threats, Challenges & Actions

In a joint effort, BC Lung Association, BC Centre for Disease Control, and the NCCEH organized a radon workshop on March 7, 2012 as part of the BC Lung Association’s two day Annual Air Quality & Health Workshop in Vancouver. The objective of the radon workshop was to identify ways in which public health practitioners and other stakeholders can move forward on reducing residential radon...

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Personal Services Settings: Evidence, Gaps, and the Way Forward

Presentations: IntroductionKaren Rideout and Prabjit Barn, NCCEH Public Health and the Body Modification IndustryElwood, Elwood's Body Modification Public Health Inspectors and Personal Services Settings - Regulatory and Knowledge GapsChristian Lapensee, Ottawa Public Health Workshop Summary

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Event

BC Healthy Living Alliance - Hashing it Out: Can We Learn About Cannabis From What We Know About Alcohol?

In recent years, there has been a dramatic shift in policy approaches to substance use in Canada and BC. The introduction of Happy Hours and expansion of booze sales to new places such as farmers markets, grocery stores and hair salons are a few examples of the loosening of alcohol regulations that happened when elements of the 2013 Liquor Policy Review promoting consumer convenience and...

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NCCEH eJournal Club - Water Quality Survey of Splash Pads After a Waterborne Salmonellosis Outbreak

The NCCEH eJournal Club is a series of informal hour-long sessions discussing and appraising articles relating to environmental health. Active participation is encouraged. Although these sessions are directed at public health inspectors, anyone interested in a given topic is more than welcome to take part. Remote viewing instructions are available on the Eventbrite registration page. Title of...

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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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Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Epigenetic Embedding of Early Life Experiences: How Environments Get “Under the Skin”

This presentation will highlight the emerging role of epigenetic modifications at the interface between environments and the genome.  Drawing on a large interdisciplinary research network of human population studies with partners from child development, psychology, psychiatry, and epidemiology, Dr. Kobor will discuss how early life adversities such as poverty and family stress can ”get under the...

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BC Lung Association - 6th BC Radon Workshop: Collaborative and Innovative Approach to Radon Issues

Radon is a ubiquitous, naturally occurring radioactive gas in open atmosphere that comes from the decay of uranium, which is distributed throughout soil and rocks. Radon and its decay products are found in higher concentrations in confined space such as homes, buildings and underground workplaces. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the second leading cause after...

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BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) - 2017 Zoonoses Symposium

The Zoonotic Disease Symposium is a collaborative, interdisciplinary forum that provides an opportunity for professionals from across BC to gather, network, and learn about health issues affecting animals and humans.  The Symposium program offers a broad range of topics that are relevant to professionals from a variety of disciplines. The agenda for this event will be made available closer to...

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UBC School of Population and Public Health - Rats! Purveyors of pestilence or public health helpers?

Presenters: Kaylee Byers, Interdisciplinary doctoral student, Vancouver Rat Project researcher, and Friedman Scholar Michael Lee, SPPH doctoral student, and Vancouver Rat Project researcher

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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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Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) - Burden of Occupational Cancer in Ontario: Major Workplace Carcinogens and Prevention of Exposure

In October 2017, the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) and Cancer Care Ontario released a report on the impact of workplace carcinogens in Ontario. The report, “Burden of Occupational Cancer in Ontario: Major Workplace Carcinogens and Prevention of Exposure,” focused on carcinogens that are well-established causes of cancer: solar ultraviolet radiation, asbestos, diesel engine exhaust...

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NCCEH eJournal Club - Implementation of a radon measurement protocol and its communication plan by child care centre managers in Québec

The NCCEH eJournal Club is a series of informal hour-long sessions discussing and appraising articles relating to environmental health. Active participation is encouraged. Although these sessions are directed at public health inspectors, anyone interested in a given topic is more than welcome to take part. Remote viewing instructions are available on the Eventbrite registration page. Title of...

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CIPHI Ontario Seminar Series - Student Edition

This CIPHI Seminar Series will feature three student abstracts. Microbial Levels of Kibbeh Nayyeh Presenter: Mahmoud Kanaan Kibbeh Nayyeh is a raw beef ready-to-eat dish typically found in the Middle East, but also prepared and served in Canada. Under Section 33 (7) of Ontario Regulation 562:  Food Premises (1990), it is specified that all ground meat, with the exception of poultry, must be...

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Public Health Ontario - PHO Grand Rounds: The Burden of Illness of Enteric Zoonoses in Ontario

Enteric diseases are a significant contributor to the overall burden of reportable illnesses in Ontario, accounting for approximately 9,500 cases in 2011. Consumption of contaminated food and water, contact with animals and their environment, and person-to-person contact constitute important modes of transmission for enteric illnesses. In this session, we will present the overall findings of a...

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Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Mycotoxins in Food Insecure Countries

Presenter: Dr. J. David Miller, Department of Chemistry, Carleton University, Ottawa Abstract: There are five agriculturally important mycotoxins in food and feed, aflatoxin (1961), ochratoxin (1965), deoxynivalenol (1974), zearlanone (1966) and fumonisin (1988). In the US and Canada, contamination by mycotoxins costs the agri-food system between $200 million and $2 billion in loss each year....

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