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.


Previous research has suggested differences between public and professional understanding of the field of environmental health (EH) and the role of EH services within urban and rural communities. This study investigated EH priority differences between 1) rural and urban residents and 2) residents and EH professionals, and presents quantitative and qualitative methods for establishing locality-specific EH priorities. Residents (N = 588) and EH professionals (N = 63) in Alabama identified EH priorities via a phone or online survey. We categorized rurality of participant residences by rural–urban commuting area codes and population density, and tested whether or not EH priorities were different between urban and rural residents. Built environment issues, particularly abandoned houses, and air pollution were high priorities for urban residents—whereas, water and sanitation issues, and paper mill-related pollution were high priorities in rural communities. EH professionals ranked food safety and water and sanitation issues as higher priorities than residents did. Results highlight the importance of urbanicity on environmental risk perception and the utility of simple and inexpensive engagement methods for understanding these differences. Differences between residents and EH professionals suggest improving stakeholder participation in local-level EH decision making might lead to greater awareness of EH services, which might in turn improve support and effectiveness of those services

December 2017
December 2017
80.5 | 28-36
Connor Y.H. Wu, PhD, Department of Population Health Sciences, Virginia–Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Mary B. Evans, MA, Center for the Study of Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Paul E. Wolff, Survey Research Unit, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Julia M. Gohlke, PhD, Department of Population Health Sciences, Virginia–Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech

Article Abstract

The study described in this article evaluated surface survivability of culturable Pseudomonas aeruginosa by time and type (glass, stainless steel, and laminate) using two sampling techniques: contact plates and surface swabs. Recovery of P. aeruginosa decreased logarithmically over time and varied by surface type. P. aeruginosa survival averaged 3.75, 5.75, and 6.75 hours on laminate, glass, and stainless steel, respectively. Culturable P. aeruginosa loss on stainless steel and glass were not different (p > .05); however, laminate had significantly greater loss at each time point than either glass or stainless (p < .05). A comparison of surface swab and contact plate collection efficiencies found no significant difference for laminate surfaces. Swabs, however, had a higher collection efficiency than contact plates (p < .05).

For the first time, the authors report P. aeruginosa mean survival time of 3.75–6.75 hours on clinically relevant surfaces, with P. aeruginosa on stainless steel surviving the longest. Their data also indicate that culturable surface sampling appears to most accurately represent actual P. aeruginosa surface loading when swab sampling is used.


May 2014
76.9 | 16-20
Eric A. Lutz, PhD, Tia M. Jones
Additional Topics A to Z: General Environmental Health

Article Abstract

Extensive literature has already documented the deleterious effects of heavy metal toxins on the human brain and nervous system. These toxins, however, represent only a fraction of the environmental hazards that may pose harm to cognitive ability in humans. Lead and mercury exposure, air pollution, and organic compounds all have the potential to damage brain functioning yet remain understudied. In order to provide comprehensive and effective public health and health care initiatives for prevention and treatment, we must first fully understand the potential risks, mechanisms of action, and outcomes surrounding exposure to these elements in the context of neurocognitive ability. This article provides a review of the negative effects on cognitive ability of these lesser-studied environmental toxins, with an emphasis on delineating effects observed in child versus adult populations. Possible differential effects across sociodemographic populations (e.g., urban versus rural residents; ethnic minorities) are discussed as important contributors to risk assessment and the development of prevention measures. The public health and clinical implications are significant and offer ample opportunities for clinicians and researchers to help combat this growing problem.


Jan/Feb 2014
76.6 | 130-138
Jianghong Liu, PhD, Gary Lewis
Additional Topics A to Z: Children's Environmental Health

Book: Essentials of Environmental Health (Second Edition)Essentials of Environmental Health (Second Edition) provides a clear and comprehensive study of the major topics in environmental health.

Environmental threats are occurring on a worldwide scale. Dramatic pictures showing the devastating effects of natural disasters lead the nightly news. Stories of oil spills, contaminated groundwater, deforestation, and depleted fisheries appear in the pages of newspapers daily.

National and international policymakers are concerned about the potential impact on the health of the world’s population and, as a result, much progress has been made in informing the public and introducing regulations with the hopes of containing these hazards.

Robert H. Friis
Additional Topics A to Z: General Environmental Health


The goal of this study was to gain a better understanding of the link between groundwater nitrate concentrations and various land uses in North Carolina. Groundwater nitrate data from wells across North Carolina were summarized for each county. Land-use characteristics for each county including acreage and fraction of land in agriculture, population and population density, total number and density of septic systems, and the numbers and densities of various livestock (poultry, hogs, and cattle) were computed. Land-use characteristics for the 10 counties with the highest and lowest mean nitrate concentrations were compared to determine if significant differences in land-use characteristics accompanied differences in nitrate concentrations. Data indicated that counties with the highest average nitrate concentrations had more acreage and a higher fraction of their land in agriculture and higher numbers and densities of livestock. There were statistically significant correlations among average nitrate concentrations and acreage and fraction of land in agriculture and numbers and densities of livestock. Efforts to implement best management practices for reducing nitrate loss from agricultural fields is suggested especially in the Inner Coastal Plain of North Carolina where the highest mean concentrations of nitrate in groundwater were located.


May 2018
May 2018
80.9 | 16-23
Emily Naylor, MSEH, REHS, Stokes County Environmental Health , Charles Humphrey, PhD, REHS, Environmental Health Sciences Program, East Carolina University, Tim Kelley, PhD, Environmental Health Sciences Program, East Carolina University, Leslie Easter, REHS, Stokes County Environmental Health
Additional Topics A to Z: Drinking Water