Environmental Health Resources for the COVID-19 Pandemic
The transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, occurs primarily via direct contact with or respiratory droplets from an infected person. However, there is evidence to suggest that transmission via other modes – such as contaminated surfaces, aerosols, or contact with fecal material – is possible. As such, environmental health practitioners have a key role to play in promoting general hygiene measures as well as addressing unique information needs as the pandemic affects all aspect of public and private life.
This topic page has been created to promote key COVID-19 resources to environmental health practitioners and related professions. We are actively collecting and curating resources from more than 50 Canadian and international public health agencies, and will be promoting those resources via social media and by providing the essential resources on this topic page. This information is current to the date at the bottom of the page.
You can also find additional COVID-19 resources on our other topic pages:
- Building Shutdown and Re-opening during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- COVID-19 Management during Public Health Emergencies
- An Introduction to SARS-CoV-2 (O'Keeffe, Freeman, Nicol 2020)
This short evidence brief provides an introduction to the basic virology and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to inform the measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.
- COVID-19 Risks and precautions for the performing arts (O’Keeffe, 2020)
This evidence review synthesizes available evidence to date on transmission risks of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, associated with performing arts activities.
- COVID-19 Risks and Precautions for Choirs (O’Keeffe, 2020)
This evidence review provides an overview of the key risks associated with singing in groups and the suite of precautions that can be considered to minimize these risks.
- High-humidity Environments and the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission (Eykelbosh, 2020)
This rapid review did not identify an elevated transmission risk for showers, steam rooms, or hot tubs as a result of high temperature (>30°C) and/or high humidity (>80% relative humidity).
- Environmental public health guidance for encampments during the COVID-19 pandemic (Yehia, 2020)
This guidance document provides operational considerations for hygiene, cleaning, and physical distancing to reduce transmission risk in encampments. A recording of the NCCEH webinar, When Shelter in Place Isn't an Option, is also available.
- COVID-19 in indoor environments — Air and surface disinfection measures (Chen, O'Keeffe, 2020)
This guidance document provides an overview of commonly used approaches to mitigate the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 indoors and presents three additional control measures based on disinfection — ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), electrostatic spraying of disinfectants and disinfectant fogging.
- Reducing COVID-19 Transmission Through Cleaning and Disinfecting Household Surfaces (Chen, 2020)
This guidance document provides information to public health professionals who may be consulted on the appropriate use of cleaning and disinfection products as well as frequency of cleaning and disinfecting in homes to protect the health of the public.
- Masking during the COVID-19 pandemic (O'Keeffe 2020)
This guidance document synthesizes the evidence on the use of masks as a control measure to impede the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. This document outlines the main types of masks, their effectiveness in providing protection against pathogenic hazards, and considerations for the safe use.
- COVID-19 Precautions for Multi-unit Residential Buildings (Eykelbosh, 2020)
This guidance document synthesizes the evidence on COVID-19 transmission as a means to understand how people in multi-unit residential buildings might be affected and how to best prevent the spread of the virus. A recording of the NCCEH seminar is also available, as well as a poster on Using Shared Laundry Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic that is also available in French, Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish.
- COVID-19 and outdoor safety: Considerations for use of outdoor recreational spaces (Freeman, Eykelbosh, 2020)
This guidance document synthesizes the available evidence on COVID-19 transmission its relevance for outdoor recreational areas. Considerations and options for managing park use are presented.
- Death care during the COVID-19 pandemic: understanding the public health risks (O'Keeffe, 2020)
This paper provides an overview of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 and what is known about the relative risks of transmission across various stages of the death care process from the point of death through to cremation or burial.
- Public washrooms in the time of COVID-19: Facility features and user behaviours can influence safety (Anne-Marie Nicol, 2020)
This blog provides an overview of the factors that can influence the transmission of SARS CoV-2 virus in public facilities is warranted.
- Nanomaterials as Disinfectants in the Time of SARS-CoV-2 (Freeman, 2020)
This blog discusses applications of nanotechnology to the self-disinfection of personal protective equipment and frequently touched (high-touch) surfaces in public spaces.
Hand Sanitizers Contamination Prompts more Recalls during COVID-19 (Nicol, 2020)
This blog explains the safety concerns underpinning recent recalls of a hand sanitizer products being sold in the US and Canada.
- Are temperature scanners just a lot of hot air? (O'Keeffe, 2020)
This blog examines the use of temperature scanners in previous pandemics and the limitations of the practice in controlling transmission of infectious diseases.
- The Role of Ventilation in Influencing the COVID-19 Pandemic (Eykelbosh, 2020)
This blog discusses the role of ventilation systems in exacerbating or mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
- Bike Sharing during COVID-19 (Freeman, 2020)
This blog overviews some of the measures that bike-sharing programs have employed to continue operations while protecting worker safety and that of the public.
- Safety Considerations for Cycling during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Freeman, 2020)
This blog considers some of the measures that have been implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to and from cyclists.
- Physical Barriers for COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control in Commercial Settings (Eykelbosh, 2020)
This blog discusses best practices, gathered from industry and public health, for designing, installing, and cleaning physical barriers. Barriers or partitions are being widely utilized to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk in settings where maintaining physical distance and/or masking is not feasible.
- When hand washing is not handy: Cautions for hand sanitizer use (Nicol, 2020)
This blog provides some cautionary points on how to source, use, and safely handle sanitizer products.
- Environmental Public Health Professionals can Support Health Equity in the Time of COVID-19 (Rideout, 2020)
This blog from invited contributor Dr. Karen Rideout highlights the critical role that environmental public health professionals can play in mitigating the enormous health equity impacts due to the pandemic.
- COVID-19 and use of disinfectants and sanitizers in food premises (Chen, 2020)
Based on the NCCEH document "Disinfectants and sanitizers for food contact surfaces", this blog provides updated information and general guidance to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in food premises.
- Environmental public health professionals can support health equity in the time of COVID-19 (Rideout, 2020)
- Summer is coming: Wildfire Smoke + COVID-19 (Henderson, 2020)
- Make our communities healthier with better air quality during and post-pandemic: CANUE (Brook, 2020)
The NCCEH has produced several COVID-19 research scans that include numerous articles relevant to the environmental health response to the pandemic. Going forward, COVID-19 literature will be part of our regularly monthly research scans, which are posted in the NCCEH Blog.
- COVID-19 Research Scan: March 1 - April 2, 2020
- COVID-19 Research Scan: April 2 - April 20
- COVID-19 Research Scan: April 23 - May 8
- COVID-19 Research Scan: May 9 – June 3
- July Environmental Health Research Scan (with COVID-19 section)
- August Environmental Health Research Scan (with COVID-19 section)
- September Environmental Health Research Scan (with COVID-19 section)
- October Environmental Health Research Scan (with COVID-19 section)
- Linkages Between Air Pollution and the Health Burden from COVID-19: Methodological Challenges and Opportunities (Benmarhnia, 2020)
This peer-reviewed article covers some of the key concerns and challenges when investigating the relationship between air pollution and COVID-19 outcomes.
- An ecological analysis of long-term exposure to PM2.5 and incidence of COVID-19 in Canadian Health Regions (Stieb et al. 2020)
This peer-reviewed article describes statistically significant positive associations between long-term PM2.5 exposure and COVID-19 incidence in Canada’s most densely populated health regions. Similarly, Zhu et al. (2020) reported positive associations between PM2.5, PM10, CO, NO2, and O3 (but not SO2) and COVID-19 incidence in China.
- Exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States: A nationwide cross-sectional study (Wu et al. 2020)
This non-peer-reviewed pre-print was among the first to report a potential relationship between air pollution (PM2.5 exposure) and COVID-19 outcomes (mortality).
- The impact of COVID-19 on public space: an early review of the emerging questions – design, perceptions and inequities (Honey-Rosés et al. 2020)
This peer-reviewed article outlines some of the unexpected ways in which the pandemic might change how cities are designed and who may (or may not) benefit.
- COVID-19 and Cities: from Urban Health Strategies to the Pandemic Challenge. A Decalogue of Public Health Opportunities (Capolongo et al. 2020)
This peer-reviewed article provides a set of “Ten Commandments” through which cities can be made more resilient and further integrate public health needs into their design.
- Design for Distancing Ideas Guidebook (City of Baltimore, 2020)
This document contains design and public health guidance on how to adapt public spaces for safe, physically distant usage during the pandemic. Complementary information can be found within NACTO’s recent guidebook, Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery.
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Built Environment Considerations To Reduce Transmission (Dietz et al. 2020)
This peer-reviewed article outlines some of the ways in which building design and operation can be improved to address the risk of pandemics.
- Risk mitigation tool for outdoor recreation spaces and activities operating during the COVID-19 pandemic (Government of Canada, 2020)
This tool addresses risks associated with the use of parks and outdoor recreational spaces during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and provide examples of strategies that may be implemented to reduce potential risks.
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2020)
This factsheet provides tips for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, such as educational institutions, cultural institutions, public transit, and workplaces. Additional information is also presented for homes with COVID-19 patients. PHAC also has a directory of factsheets with specific information on self-isolation, mental health, pregnancy and childbirth, caring for sick children, and advice for a variety of workplaces for individuals. PHAC’s COVID-19 homepage is a key resource.
- List of hard-surface disinfectants for use against coronavirus (COVID-19) (Health Canada, 2020)
This webpage provides a means for consumers to determine whether a given product is believed to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, virus that causes COVID-19. Check your product for its Drug Identification Number (DIN) and enter it into the search box.
- Chlorine Dilution Calculator (BC FOODSAFE Program, 2020)
This easy-to-use online calculator helps you determine how much liquid bleach to add to water to get your desired concentration (ppm) of chlorine solution. This tool was developed to assist Environmental Health Officers, food establishment operators, care facility operators, swimming pool operators, and the public to prepare the appropriate concentration of chlorine solution using bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Never mix bleach solutions with other cleaning products.
- Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020)
This web page provides general guidance on cleaning and disinfection of rooms that may have been occupied by COVID-19-infected individuals in non-healthcare community settings.
- What We Know So Far About…. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (Public Health Ontario, 2020)
This series of reports provides succinct brief overviews of the evidence around COVID-19. Topics covered include the effectiveness of wearing masks in public, routes of transmission, asymptomatic transmission, and much more.
- COVID-19 Rapid Evidence Review (National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, 2020)
This webpage provides a place for researchers to share their upcoming or recently completed COVID-19 work. This effort is intended to reduce duplication of efforts amongst Canadian and international public health researchers. The results can be searched as well as refined according to topic area, jurisdiction, setting, and population.
- State of the Science Reports (CanCOVID, 2020)
These backgrounder documents are produced by CanCOVID, the network of Canadian COVID-19 researchers, clinical collaborators, and healthcare stakeholders. Topic areas include: Viral Composition and Molecular Fingerprint, COVID Symptoms and Disease, Viral Transmission, and Who is at Risk?
- Interim guidance: Death care services and handling of dead bodies during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2020)
This guidance document provides information on safe handling of bodies, mourning services, repatriation of bodies, and bereavement and grief support.
- Safe handling of Bodies of Deceased Persons with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19: Interim Guidance (BC Centre for Disease Control, 2020)
This guidance document provides detailed guidance on the various activities involved in preparing a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 decedent.
- Considerations related to the safe handling of bodies of deceased persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2020)
This guidance document provides a European perspective on the possible risks associated with handling of bodies of deceased persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Safe handling practices, appropriate PPE and disinfection practices are explained for various settings in which persons may come in contact with the deceased, including the site of death, transportation to burial or cremation sites, storage and preparation for burial/cremation, and during burial/cremation.
- First Responders (BC Centre for Disease Control, 2020)
This webpage provides advice and information to first responders to help them stay healthy while on the job.
- Infection Prevention and Control for First Responders Providing Direct Care for Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Patients (Public Health Ontario, 2020)
This evidence review assesses the evidence on SARS-Cov-2 transmission and its relevance for the appropriate personal protective equipment required for specific roles and activities carried out by first responders.
- Public Health Ethics and COVID-19: Selected Resources (National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy, 2020)
This research scan aggregates value resources on ethical guidance for responding to the pandemic and provides a brief synthesis of each response.
Food businesses (BC Centre for Disease Control, 2020)
This web page provides food safety and COVID-19-related information for grocery stores, restaurants, and other food premises based on current federal and provincial guidance. The drop down menus answers to queries around handling money, cards, and containers, as well as general sanitation and how to use disinfectants safely. The BCCDC has also created resources for food banks and farmer’s markets.
- FAQs for the Food Industry (Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University, 2020)
This webpage addresses frequently asked questions about food safety issues associated with COVID-19. It also provides tools and resources to help food services and food industry operators to reduce risk of transmission and improve the safety of their staff and premises.
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): CFIA information for industry (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2020)
This webpage provides information regarding the integrity of Canada’s food supply, best practices for those working in any food, plant, or animal production or processing, and other key concerns.
- The Spread of a Norovirus Surrogate via Reusable Grocery Bags in a Grocery Supermarket (NEHA, 2020)
This document summarizes the results of a study to estimate the transfer of viruses from seeded reuseable grocery bags used by shoppers to other surfaces in a grocery story using a microbial surrogate. The study found that customers transferred virus from their reusable grocery bag to surfaces throughout the store including customer and check-out clerk hands, packaged products and unpackaged produce, check-out surfaces, grocery carts, incentive cards and handles.
- Equity-informed responses to COVID-19 (National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, 2020)
This webpage provides numerous resources to help practitioners apply an equity lens to the pandemic response, which is critically important given the exacerbating effect of the pandemic on many of the stressors already impacting vulnerable populations.
- Health Equity: Promoting Fair Access to Health (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020)
This webpage explains the relationship between COVID-19 and the longstanding health inequities that are disproportionately impacting racialized groups. The webpage also provides a useful, high-level guide to developing a health equity strategy.
- Sharing the Harvest during the Pandemic (First Nations Health Authority, 2020)
This guidance document provides some additional measures and information resources to minimize the risk of disease transmission between community members who wish to share traditional foods within their community.
- Infectious Questions: Pandemic preparedness in First Nations communities (National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, 2020)
This podcast series looks at various public health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including action in northern and remote communities, First Nations communities, and long-term care facilities. There are also episodes on engagement with public health nurses and general infection control and prevention.
- Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (First Nations Health Authority, 2020)
This webpage contains numerous provincial and federal resources aimed at supporting Indigenous communities and individuals during the pandemic.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Indigenous communities (Indigenous Services Canada, 2020)
This web page provides general advice on COVID-19 symptoms and precautions, and also explains how to ensure safe handwashing even when drinking water advisories are in place. Information on ISC’s emergency response plans, to the pandemic as well as any new compounding emergency), is provided.
- Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
This web page provides a reliable source of information on the potential mental health impacts of the pandemic and resources for coping with anxiety and stigma related to COVID-19.
- Multiple COVID-19 Risk Factors Increase the Likelihood of Experiencing Anxiety Symptoms in Canada (Elton-Marshall et al. 2020)
This peer-reviewed article used survey data from May 2020 to understand some of the root causes affecting the mental health of Canadians.
- COVID-19 Home Confinement Negatively Impacts Social Participation and Life Satisfaction: A Worldwide Multicenter Study (Ammar et al. 2020)
This peer-reviewed article pooled data from 35 research centers worldwide to gain insight in to the impacts of the pandemic on individual behavior and lifestyle.
- COVID-19 – What We Know So Far About…Wearing Masks in Public (Public Health Ontario, June 2020)
This evidence brief provides a summary of the literature on masking as source control, both in public and when trying to prevent the spread of an illness within the home.
- Considerations in the use of homemade masks to protect against COVID-19 (Health Canada 2020)
This web page highlights some of the concerns related to the use of cloth masks, alone or over top of respirators to conserve PPE supplies, and points to further health Canada guidance on optimizing the use of masks and respirators during the pandemic.
- Evidence of harm from mask use for specific populations (Alberta Health Services, Aug 2020).
This evidence brief examined the literature to determine whether there is a scientific basis for excluding certain individuals from masking mandates, and if so, what should be done if physical distancing can’t be maintained.
- Face Shields for Source Control of COVID-19 (Public Health Ontario, July 2020)
This evidence brief provides a summary of the limited evidence available for using face shields as a substitute for masks.
- Cloth masks and mask sterilisation as options in case of shortage of surgical masks and respirators (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2020)
This guidance document provides a brief overview of the effectiveness of cloth face masks and sterilization of respirators and surgical masks as an alternative in healthcare settings with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 where there are shortages of specialized surgical masks and respirators.
- Recommendations on Environmental Public Health for Temporary Shelters (World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
This short guidance document provides key actions to support and protect populations that make use of shelters and transit homes during the COVID-19 emergency.
- Infection Prevention and Control Resources for Homelessness Service Settings (Toronto Public Health, 2019)
This detailed guidance document provide infection prevention and control advice for staff and managers of settings that either provide shelter or services to people experiencing homelessness.
- Interim Guidance for Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020)
This guidance document applies what is known about COVID-19 transmission to the management of camps or other informal settlements of those experiencing homelessness.
- COVID-19 Information for Travellers (Transport Canada, 2020)
This webpage provides frequently updated advice for those travelling by air, water, road, rail or public transit.
- COVID-19: Guidance for the public transit industry (Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), 2020)
This web page provides concise but comprehensive coverage of considerations for maintaining continuity of essential public transit services and is relevant for service providers, their employees as well as service users. Topics covered include communications, personal protection measures for drivers and passengers as well as contingency plans such as separation of services. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has a webinar series that compliments many of these topic areas.
- COVID-19 Guidance for Taxi/Ride Share Employers, Drivers, Vehicle Owners (Toronto Public Health, 2020)
This fact sheet provides tips on hygiene, respiratory etiquette, maintaining physical distancing within vehicles, and cleaning.
- There Is Little Evidence That Mass Transit Poses a Risk of Coronavirus Outbreaks (Joselow, 2020)
This media article highlights some of the challenges to our understanding of the role of public transit in disease transmission, and some of the negative public health impacts of decreased transit use.
- Transportation and Infrastructure (Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School, 2020)
This article curates a list of long list of how cities, states and transit agencies are adapting their practices and policies to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Episode 11: Children and COVID-19 (National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease, 2020)
This podcast covers some of the essential information regarding children’s health and wellbeing during the pandemic.
- School Closures Impact on Learning, Child and Family Well-being (BCCDC, 2020)
This evidence review seeks to understand some of the developmental, mental health and other impacts of children being unable to attend school. A webinar was also presented as part of BCCDC Grand Rounds. (LINK TO PDF AVAILABLE SEPT. 21st)
- COVID-19 in children and the role of school settings in COVID-19 transmission (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, August 2020)
This evidence review reports on the occurrence of COVID-19 in children in the EU/EEA and the UK, and the evidence on transmission in school settings in these countries.
School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review (Viner et al. 2020)
This peer-reviewed article provides a systematic review of the effect of school closures on coronavirus (SARS, MERS, and SARS-CoV-2) transmission.
COVID-19: Community and Workplace Settings (Child Care Centres) (Toronto Public Health, 2020)
This tool kit from Toronto Children’s Services provides a number of resources for heightened sanitation and other measures to reduce the risk of transmission through child care centres.
Rapid Review Update 4: What is the specific role of daycares and schools in COVID-19 transmission? (NCCMT, August 2020)
This evidence brief updates a previous review of the impact of school/daycare on pediatric transmission.
- Safer disinfectant use during COVID-19 for early childcare providers (Leonard, 2020)
This presentation outlines some of the environmental health concerns for exposures to cleaning products in childcare settings, with recommendations on how to clean surfaces and equipment more safely.
Water and Wastewater
- Online Resources for Canadian Water and Wastewater Utilities during the COV-19 Pandemic (Canadian Water Network, 2020)
This research scan focuses on research and regulatory guidance specific to water utility manager and professionals. It also includes business continuity planning resources and well as considerations for compounding emergencies that may coincide with the pandemic. It is current to April 2, 2020.
- Water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (World Health Organization, 2020)
This guidance document provides advice on wastewater and solid waste management where SARS-CoV-1 may be present in waste streams. It is available in multiple languages.
- Virtual International Water Research Summit on COVID-19 (Water Research Foundation, 2020)
These proceedings of the WRF Virtual International Water Research Summit on COVID-19, held in May 2020, provide an overview of key considerations and challenges for wastewater based monitoring or SARS-CoV-2. For an example of wastewater surveillance in action, please see this article in the Washington Post.
- Computational analysis of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 surveillance by wastewater-based epidemiology locally and globally: Feasibility, economy, opportunities and challenges (Hart and Halden, 2020)
This peer-reviewed article reports on a computational modeling study and cost analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of wastewater based epidemiology for tracking SARS-CoV-2 infection in the community.
This list is not intended to be exhaustive. Omission of a resource does not preclude it from having value.
|Last updated||Sep 24, 2020|