Topics A to Z

As part of NEHA's continuos effort to provide convenient access to information and resources, we have gathered together for you the links in this section. Our mission is "to advance the environmental health and protection professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all,” as well as to educate and inform those outside the profession.

Article Abstract

Climate change risk assessment, adaptation, and mitigation planning have become increasingly important to environmental health practitioners (EHPs). The NEHA/UL Sabbatical Exchange Award allowed me to investigate how EHPs in the UK are incorporating climate change planning and communication strategies into their work. Projected climate change risks in the UK include flooding, extreme heat, water shortages, severe weather, decreased air quality, and changes in vectors. Despite public perception and funding challenges, all the local government representatives with whom I met incorporated climate change risk assessment, adaptation, and mitigation planning into their work. The mandated Community Risk Register serves as a key planning document developed by each local government authority and is a meaningful way to look at potential climate change health risks. Adaptation and sustainability were common threads in my meetings. These often took the form of “going green” with transportation, energy efficiency, conserving resources, and building design because the efforts made sense monetarily as future cost savings. Communication strategies targeted a variety of audiences (EHPs, non-EHP government employees, politicians, and the general public) using a broad range of communication channels (professional training, lobbying, conferences and fairs, publications, print materials, Internet resources, social media, billboards, etc).

 

April 2014
76.8 | 28-33
Dhitinut Ratnapradipa, MSc, MPA, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: Workforce Development

Article Abstract

This guest commentary describes the 2013 NEHA/UL Sabbatical Exchange Award winner’s project. Dr. Hart traveled to three colleges in Canada that have undergraduate degree programs that lead to certification as a Public Health Inspector as certified by the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors. Dr. Hart was interested in how the Canadian curriculums/programs differed or were similar to U.S. curriculums/programs. 

March 2015
77.7 | 30-33
Charles Hart, PhD, CIH, CSP, RS
Additional Topics A to Z: Workforce Development

Abstract

Environmental health practitioners deal with assessing risk of potential environmental contaminants from a variety of sources, including infectious disease such as Ebola virus disease (EVD). Therefore, they are uniquely qualified to contribute to epidemiological discussions of the interactions between agent-host-environment and how those interactions might be disrupted to stop the spread of EVD. Occupational health contributions on the proper use of personal protective equipment are particularly relevant for diseases lacking vaccination and treatment such as EVD. Occupations that may be at increased risk of exposure include health workers, laboratory workers, cleaning crews (for hospitals, ambulances, travel facilities, etc.), transportation workers (e.g., airlines, public transportation, taxis), sanitation workers, and morgue workers. Raising awareness professionally and publicly is an important step to stopping the spread of EVD.

November 2015
November 2015
78.4 | 18-21
Kendra Ratnapradipa, MSW
Additional Topics A to Z: Pathogens and Outbreaks

When faced with a challenge from the potential spread of infections such as Ebola or SARS , or even bio-terrorism, can past quarantine protocols be used for new or reemerging disease threats? Does modern society challenge us to re-think, re-imagine, re-engineer how we implement and oversee quarantine and isolation for potential carriers of infectious disease? This audience-centric session will allow attendees to actively participate in identifying professional knowledge gaps as presenters illustrate real-life approaches to modern diseases and plagues.

Presented at NEHA 2015 AEC

July 2015
Additional Topics A to Z: Emerging Environmental Health

Article Abstract

Between January and April 2012, the city of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services investigated an outbreak involving 19 case patients who had tested positive for Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium with indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns. All cases were residents of or traveled to the city of Long Beach, California, during their incubation period, and the majority of patients reported eating at one of two restaurants in Long Beach. This article describes the outbreak investigation that traced the source to an asymptomatic food handler working at both restaurants and highlights the importance of maintaining a high index of suspicion for food handlers when faced with local outbreaks of diarrheal illness.

Keith S. Allen, MPA, REHS/RS, Emily J. Holman, MSc, John R. Holguin, MPH, Mauro Torno, MD,
Additional Topics A to Z: Food Safety

Abstract

A community-based participatory research process was used to develop an environmental initiative in Wichita, Kansas, called the Wichita Initiative to Renew the Environment (WIRE). The two-year project, led by University of Kansas School of Medicine–Wichita faculty and a community-based organization, was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project aimed to identify, prioritize, and address Wichitans’ environmental concerns by engaging the community to assist in developing the project design, establish a community-based environmental leadership council to guide the project, and identify and prioritize the community’s environmental concerns based on impact and perceived urgency for action. The collaboration identified community priorities as: trash disposal, pollution in the Arkansas River and groundwater, and mobile source air pollution. Through WIRE, community members actively engaged and participated in identifying and prioritizing 19 environmental concerns most pertinent to the community, establishing an organization of 25 community members, and setting the stage for future projects to address those problems.

December 2016
December 2016
75.5 | 14-19
Elizabeth Ablah, MPH, PhD, Jack Brown, MUA, RS, Barry Carroll, MPS, MSW, LMSW/BSRB, Tonya Bronleewe, MSES

Abstract

Maximum contaminant levels created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Safe Drinking Water Act do not apply to private wells. Rather, the onus is on individual households to undertake regular water testing. Several barriers exist to testing and treating water from private wells, including a lack of awareness about both well water as a potential source of contaminants and government-recommended water testing schedules; a health literacy level that may not be sufficient to interpret complex environmental health messages; the inconvenience of water testing; the financial costs of testing and treatment; and a myriad of available treatment options. The existence of these barriers is problematic because well water can be a source of hazardous contaminants. This article describes an initiative—undertaken by the Tuftonboro (New Hampshire) Conservation Commission, with support from state agencies and a research program at Dartmouth College—to increase water testing rates in a rural region with a relatively high number of wells. The project prompted more water tests at the state laboratory in one day than in the prior six years. This suggests that community-driven, collaborative efforts to overcome practical barriers could be successful at raising testing rates and ultimately improving public health.

December 2015
December 2015
78.5 | 30-39
Michael P. Paul, MPH, JD, Pierce Rigrod, MRP, Steve Wingate, Mark E. Borsuk, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: Drinking Water

Abstract

Heat waves result in significant excess mortality, particularly amongst elderly people. This article examines selected heat wave response plans at national, state/provincial, and municipal levels, with a particular focus on specific responses aimed at residents of aged care facilities. We sourced heat wave response plans from several countries that are experiencing a demographic transition that features a growing aging population. We collected a total of 23 heat wave response plans; most of those plans were from Australia, with only three plans each available from Canada and the UK, and only two available from the U.S. Key components found across the plans were analysis of temperature thresholds, heat stress prevention measures, and communication strategies. Only three heat wave response plans that were analyzed included specific guidance for aged care facilities. Projected increases in frequency and duration of heat waves in coming decades underline the need for governments to implement effective guidelines that include specific provisions for aged care facilities.

April 2017
April 2017
79.8 | 28-37
Benjamin Okwuofu-Thomas, MAgeHlth, Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, Paul J. Beggs, PhD, Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, Ross J. MacKenzie, PhD, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University

Abstract

In Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, colonias refer to unincorporated rural settlements along the U.S.–Mexico border. Colonias lack governance and public services normally provided by local government (Ward, 1999). Residents typically rely on well water or hauled water stored in above-ground containers. This study attempted to quantify and compare water-related perceptions and practices of colonia residents. No significant differences were observed between colonia residents using well water versus hauled-stored water for water quality perceptions and water use practices. Most, however, had negative perceptions of their water supply; a majority perceived daily water supplies as not potable. Significant paradoxical discrepancies between perceptions and practice were identified. This study adds to a small but growing literature on subjective dimensions of quality of life indicators for colonia residents. Additional studies are needed to quantify the type and level of health risks posed by compromised water supplies for this vulnerable population. Understanding differences in perceptions and practices associated with water sources could help to identify which subpopulations of colonia residents are in greatest need of water infrastructure or remediation.

September 2016
September 2016
79.2 | 14-20
Lydia B. Garcia, MPH, Christina Sobin, PhD, Joseph Tomaka, PhD, Ivonne Santiago, PhD

Over the last twenty years, health impact assessment (HIA) has been developing as an analytical tool, typically as part of an environmental impact assessment process during the planning phase to evaluate proposed projects

July 2015
Kanan Patel-Coleman, MPH
Potential CE Credits: 1.00
Additional Topics A to Z: General Environmental Health

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