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.


There is no single, uniform nationwide method for organizing and delivering governmental environmental health (EH) services to residents of the U.S. and its territories. A comprehensive effort to describe existing EH service delivery models has not been conducted. To address this gap in knowledge, the authors investigated EH organization and delivery methods among states and territories in fall 2017. The aim was to provide a synthesized understanding of EH system delivery to assist in efforts to target and deliver workforce capacity building and professional development support. We contacted EH directors of every state and territory through an informational survey to 1) describe how services are delivered, 2) quantify service delivery jurisdictions, and 3) determine the administrative home of core EH programs. We achieved a 98% survey rate response. Service delivery administrative models were heterogeneous and fell into three categories: centralized, decentralized, and mixed/shared organization. The number of jurisdictions within states and territories ranged from 1–351 jurisdictions. The administrative agency home of EH varied widely. With this research, we hope to better understand the structure of each regional agency and the efficacy of each agency’s performance as it relates to its structure and distribution.



December 2019
December 2019
82.5 | 22-27
Reem Tariq, MSEH, National Environmental Health Association, Diana Jaramillo, MPH, Center for Health, Work, & Environment, Colorado School of Public Health, David T. Dyjack, DrPH, CIH, National Environmental Health Association
Additional Topics A to Z: Workforce Development


Infectious disease outbreaks related to outdoor sporting events are an underacknowledged environmental health risk. We reviewed documented instances of sporting events that led to outbreaks of illness due to interactions of athletes with environmental pathogen reservoirs such as soil or water. We note that aspects of outdoor athletic activities can mediate a suppression in immune function. The implications of this review are of particular interest to environmental health professionals and healthcare professionals, as they show that populations of young, otherwise healthy adult athletes and other members of their communities are a contextually at-risk group to be aware of in order to improve and speed ability to cluster individuals in outbreaks, and for diagnosis and prevention for individual patients. This review highlights an opportunity where environmental health professionals can provide a critical linkage between patients and the environment.


October 2020
October 2020
83.3 | 22-27
Siddhi Ramesh, University of Pennsylvania, Sunit P. Jariwala, MD, Division of Allergy & Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, David A. Hewitt, PhD, Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania; Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
Additional Topics A to Z: Pathogens and Outbreaks

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


A systematic method of estimating undocumented private wells in the state of Illinois has not been established; this study fills that void. Data from a 1934 well survey of one quarter of McDonough County, Illinois, along with old plat books showing existing structures, were used to compute ratios of wells to structures for the rural portions of the county. Applying these ratios to the portions of the county that were not included in the 1934 well survey produced estimates ranging from 676–1,116 undocumented wells in 1934. Well-to-structure ratios as of 1997 were calculated by using the results of the 1934 estimate and incorporating records of well installation or well sealing from 1935–1997. Some of these anomalously high ratios were explained by the existence of structures that were not represented on the plat maps, but high ratios (>2) in the rural parts of the county were shown to provide evidence for the likely existence of abandoned wells or wells that were sealed without documentation.


December 2018
December 2018
81.5 | 26-33
Steve Bennett, PhD, Department of Geology, Western Illinois University, Chad Sperry, MS, GIS Center, Western Illinois University


Preventable foodborne diseases are a significant problem in the U.S. and 9.4 million illnesses per year are associated with contaminated food. For this study, 86 Western Carolina University students living on campus or in the state of North Carolina participated using a nonprobability, snowball sampling technique. We collected data using a Qualtrics survey regarding demographics, basic knowledge of food safety, and expectations of food service regulations. This study found that college students lack basic knowledge of food safety and have excessive expectations of the food service regulatory system. Food service operators and managers have the ultimate responsibility of providing a safe product to consumers, and the role of health officials is to promote prevention through consultation and education to employees and owners of food service facilities. Educating college students about the limitations of the food service regulatory system will allow for more informed decisions in the interest of their health and wellness.


July 2018
July/August 2018
81.1 | 16-20
Nathan McNeilly, MHS, REHS, Cleveland County Health Department, Brian Raming, PhD, NREMT-P, Western Carolina University