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.

Abstract

Community-acquired Legionnaires’ disease (LD) cases reported in Dallas County, Texas, from 2000 through 2010 were analyzed to determine the characteristics of disease incidence and burden of community-acquired LD and identify any temporal or geographic variation of the disease occurrences. As elsewhere in the U.S., annual reported cases of LD increased in the county, rising 380% from 2000 to 2010. Almost all cases were sporadic. Clustering of cases both geographically and temporally was observed and cases were found to be concentrated in the northern and eastern parts of the county. The rising incidence of community-acquired LD may require development of a public health policy that takes into consideration risk factors, particularly age. An environmental study would be helpful to identify modifiable environmental factors in the areas with clustered cases.

April 2016
April 2016
78.8 | E1-E6
Woldu Ameneshoa, MPH, Joon-Hak Lee, MS, PhD, John T. Carlo, MSE, MD
Additional Topics A to Z: Pathogens and Outbreaks

Abstract

The current population of South Africa has been migrating into informal urban settlements that lack adequate sanitation service delivery, caused at least in part by the lack of the necessary skills in the local government sector and the lack of buy in from the community into the provided sanitation facilities. The authors report results of policy research into the relevant disaster management options that could be applied to improve the sanitation service delivery in South Africa. The best policy option was identified as the draft Disaster Management Regulations: Disaster Management. Local government can use these tools through the formation of the volunteer units from the nongovernmental organization sector, the business community, and from among the end users of sanitation facilities. Formation of the volunteer unit should follow the principles of cooperative governance and participatory approach to disaster management. Implementation should be facilitated through the adoption of locally specific municipal by laws.

March 2016
March 2016
78.7 | E1-E7
Shafick Hoossein, MSc, Roman Tandlich, PhD, Kevin Whittington-Jones, PhD, Richard Laubscher, MSc, MBA

Abstract

Increased regulatory oversight over the use of perchloroethylene (perc) in dry cleaning establishments due to health and environmental risks have prompted many dry cleaning facilities to seek substitutes. Among the most benign alternatives is professional wet cleaning. Yet is wet cleaning viable from a business perspective? Using data from five dry cleaners that recently transitioned from perc to professional wet cleaning, this analysis reviews changes associated with cleaning performance, natural resource use, operations, labor, and associated costs. The financial assessment found that the average payback period related to the capital investments averaged 2.5 years and the average return on investment was 3.6 (using a discount rate of 5%). Higher financial returns were observed when cleaners kept their capital investments below $50,000. The performance evaluation found that garments cleaned with the wet cleaning technology came out as well as or better than with perc, especially as the cleaner became more familiar with the wet cleaning process. This analysis affirms the business case for wet cleaning, adding to the body of evidence that professional wet cleaning is not only environmentally preferable, but that it is also technically and financially feasible.

January 2017
January/February 2017
79.6 | E1-E7
Joy Onasch, MS, PE, Molly Jacobs, MPH, Elyce Biddle, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: Hazardous Materials

Abstract

Children are considered to be a vulnerable population when it comes to exposures to hazardous substances. Schools, where children spend about one third of their day, are expected to be a safe environment. Yet, there are many hazardous substances in schools that can be inadvertently or intentionally released and harm the health of students and teachers alike. The purpose of this analysis is to characterize acute chemical release incidents in school settings and identify prevention practices.

The acute chemical incident surveillance programs of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) captured 24,748 acute chemical release incidents from 14 states that participated during 2008–2013. We examined 335 of these incidents that occurred at schools. While only 1.3% (n = 335) of all chemical incidents reported to ATSDR occurred in schools, these incidents represented a larger part of the total impacts, including 8.5% of incidents with persons injured, 5.7% of evacuations ordered, and 31.1% of people evacuated. Natural gas (21.8%) and mercury (18.2%) were the chemicals most frequently released.

Collecting and analyzing data on acute school chemical releases allows stakeholders to target prevention initiatives and provide a school environment safe from these chemical exposures.

November 2017
November 2017
80.4 | E1-E7
Ayana R. Anderson, MPH, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Taniece R. Eure, MPH, University of Georgia College of Public Health, Maureen F. Orr, MS, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Lloyd J. Kolbe, PhD, Indiana University Bloomington School of Public Health
Additional Topics A to Z: Institutions / Schools

Abstract

Biogeochemical interactions between humans and their surrounding environment were studied through fecal material and urine of mine laborers at the Mangampeta barite mining area in India. For the purpose of comparison, feces and urine were also collected from males of Sri Venkateswara University campus at Tirupati. Ten trace elements were analyzed by atomic absorption spectroscopy on ash weight basis. Barium, nickel, chromium, and cadmium were found to be 3 times higher in feces of men at Mangampeta than of men at Tirupati. Cobalt was also found to be marginally higher in the feces of men at Mangampeta than men at Tirupati. Barium and chromium were absent in the urine of men at Tirupati, and strontium, zinc, cobalt, and nickel were 1.5 times higher in the urine of men at Mangampeta than men at Tirupati. Heavy metals, namely copper, lead, zinc, manganese, and strontium, in feces and lead and manganese in urine of men at Tirupati were higher than men at Mangampeta. In contrast to the Western world, people in rural areas of India derive their dietary materials from their surrounding habitat. Therefore, fecal material and the urine of human beings from rural areas can be used as tools in biogeochemical surveys, as these waste materials reflect their immediate geochemical environment.

May 2016
May 2016
78.9 | E1-E5
Vangeepuram Raghu, MSc, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: Hazardous Materials

Abstract

Population-based estimates of asthma in adults in China during the summer season are lacking. A community-based survey was conducted among adults (N = 610) selected through simple random sampling across all inner-city areas of Zunyi in the Guizhou Province of China. Data on asthma and asthma-related symptoms and selected home environmental factors were collected using a modified European Community Respiratory Health Survey II questionnaire. The studied respondents recorded a prevalence rate of asthma and asthma-related symptoms in summer (7.5%) in Zunyi. Among a variety of risk factors, asthma in childhood, kitchen in the living room or bedroom, mixed fuel stove, cooking oil fumes, secondhand smoke, mold growth, and home furnishings were associated with increased risks of asthma and asthma-related symptoms. This study demonstrates the harmful effects of indoor air pollution from indoor environmental exposure on the lung function of adult residents in summer and emphasizes the need for public health efforts to decrease exposure to indoor environmental risk factors.

October 2016
October 2016
79.3 | E1-E8
Yu Jie, Li Yan, Tang Yin, Li Kebin

The ecological study described in this article assessed morbidity and mortality excesses in the eight municipalities surrounding the municipal solid waste landfill of Barengo (Novara, northwest Italy). The resident populations living in this area on December 31, 1991, and December 31, 2005, were assessed. Standardized incidence and mortality ratios were calculated using data from hospital discharge forms, death forms, and regional databases. For congenital malformations (2003–2009 period), incidence excesses were found in females. Concerning morbidity (2003–2009 period) and mortality (2000–2009 period) for all causes, the observed cases and deaths largely exceeded the expected ones. During the 1980–2000 period, incidence excesses of deaths were reported for small intestine cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and soft tissue sarcomas. Although morbidity and mortality excesses were found in the authors’ study, further studies are needed to better identify the health-risk factors present in the area.

January 2016
January/February 2016
78.6 | E1-E8
Christian Salerno, MSc, Massimiliano Panella, PhD, Sara Sacco, MD, Paola Berchialla, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: General Environmental Health

Abstract

Soil contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is an increasing problem. We wanted to determine the characteristics and ecological risk of PAHs in wastewater-irrigated soil, provide a theoretical basis for the prevention of PAH contamination in soils, and inform the formulation of guidelines and standards for critical limits of PAHs. We collected soil samples from two typical wastewater-irrigated farmlands, Farmlands A and B, in Tangshan, China, and used a clean-water irrigated farmland, Farmland C, as the control area. A total of 15 samples were analyzed for 16 PAHs by high-performance liquid chromatography. The results showed that the total amount of PAHs in samples from Farmlands A and B were 1046.2 μg/kg and 1308.1 μg/kg, respectively—significantly higher than Farmland C’s 189.1 μg/kg. The PAHs from wastewater-irrigated soil mainly consisted of PAHs of 4-rings or higher, accounting for 83.1% and 60.2% of total PAHs for Farmlands A and B, respectively. The evaluation of the ecological risk of PAHs using the single-factor index method and Nemerow comprehensive index (Pn) method revealed the main PAHs exceeding the critical limits were pyrene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene, and benzo[g,h,i]perylene. The Pn for the two wastewater-irrigated soils were 3.05 and 3.16, respectively, for Farmlands A and B, reaching a heavy pollution level versus Farmland C’s 0.34, classified as a clean level. We conclude that wastewater irrigation has led to ecological risk, and the wastewater-irrigated soil is carcinogenic, teratogenic, and mutagenic.

May 2017
May 2017
79.9 | E1-E6
Hongxia Gao, Hebei Province Key Laboratory of Occupational Health & Safety, School of Public Health, North China University of Science & Technology, Yingli Liu, Hebei Province Key Laboratory of Occupational Health & Safety, School of Public Health, North China University of Science & Technology, Weijun Guan, Hebei Province Key Laboratory of Occupational Health & Safety, School of Public Health, North China University of Science & Technology, Nan Liu, Hebei Province Key Laboratory of Occupational Health & Safety, School of Public Health, North China University of Science & Technology
Additional Topics A to Z: Hazardous Materials

Abstract

Environmental health specialists (EHS) conduct many occupational activities outdoors that may place them at increased risk for contracting a vectorborne disease. We conducted a risk assessment for tick exposure in EHS by analyzing job description, tick exposure, and the extent to which personal protective measures (PPM) were used. This pilot study focuses on eight counties in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina and follows 29 EHS during May through August 2014. A survey was administered to participants at the beginning of the study and showed that participants used PPM while working outdoors in environments conducive to tick exposure. Participants reported wearing PPM only 16% of the time they spent working outdoors. More than 28% of respondents self-reported having previously experienced a tickborne disease (primarily Rocky Mountain spotted fever) and one participant reported receiving medical treatment for a tickborne disease during the course of the study. Participants were exposed to two tick species (Amblyomma americanum Linnaeus; Dermacentor variabilis Say) and 279 ticks were submitted to researchers during the study. Although 70% of respondents reported being knowledgeable about tickborne disease, low PPM usage indicates either EHS do not believe the threat is significant, or they believe PPM available to them are ineffective.

June 2016
June 2016
78.10` | E1-E7
R. Edwin Stott, II, MSEH, REHS, Stephanie L. Richards, MSEH, PhD, Jo Anne G. Balanay, PhD, CIH, Glenn L. Martin, MSEH, REHS

Abstract

Unvented biomass cookstoves present a recognized respiratory health risk in developing countries. The purpose of this study was to characterize fine particle indoor air pollution (IAP) concentrations in dwellings using traditional cookstoves in a rural community in India. It also aimed to understand if a culturally acceptable clean cookstove intervention was needed to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses from exposure to combustion products from traditional cookstoves. We took PM2.5 concentrations and ≤0.5 µm particle counts inside a sample of dwellings during the use of traditional cookstoves. The data were analyzed to indicate the magnitude of IAP. In households with traditional cookstoves, average PM2.5 concentrations were 172.8 µg/m3, and the particle counts ≤0.5 µm averaged 346,150. The PM2.5 concentrations from the traditional cookstoves were shown as unhealthy per the PM2.5 air quality index (AQI) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Partnering with local community members, an improved prototype metal cookstove was designed to be fuel-efficient and vent the smoke out of the dwellings. We found PM2.5 concentrations and ≤0.5 µm particle counts for the new stove averaged 21.5 µg/m3 and 60,812, respectively. The PM2.5 concentrations from the new stove are at an acceptable level per the AQI.

October 2017
October 2017
80.3 | E1-E7
Samuel A.K. Patha, MPH, CPH, CHES, LEHS, Health Science Department, Brigham Young University, Eugene C. Cole, DrPH, Health Science Department, Brigham Young University, Michael D. Barnes, PhD, MCHES, Health Science Department, Brigham Young University
Additional Topics A to Z: CCFS

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