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.

Come learn about how environmental public health (EPH) professionals can help elevate the importance of EPH programs within their health department. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from experienced peers about the connections between EPH and public health accreditation and the steps EPH professionals can take to identify types of documentation that their health department may use to help meet public health accreditation.

Presented at NEHA 2015 AEC

July 2015
Additional Topics A to Z: Workforce Development

In recent years nitrogen in the environment has become a nationwide concern due to the sensitivity of many water bodies to excess nitrogen loading from many different sources, including Onsite Wastewater Systems (OWS). Complimentary to the Florida Onsite Sewage Nitrogen Reduction Strategies study, the Colorado School of Mines evaluated denitrification via subsurface via a soil treatment unit (STU). This presentation will share the rates of denitrification achieved and how to substantially increase them. See how the onsite wastewater treatment system design plays a key role in the removal of nitrogen.

Presented at NEHA 2015 AEC

July 2015
Additional Topics A to Z: Wastewater

January/February 2022 issue of the Journal of Environmental HealthAbstract

The Moscow Mule cocktail, which contains ginger beer, lime juice, and vodka, is commonly served in a copper mug. There has been increasing concern that copper can leach into the cocktail, given the acidic nature of the drink. Under the experimental conditions studied, copper does leach from the copper mug into the beverage. We observed copper leaching into the cocktail solution at a rate of 0.048 ± 7 x 10-4 ppm copper/min at room temperature. The leaching rate was found to be dependent on the acidity of the solution (increasing at lower pH) and molecular oxygen content. We quantified the copper concentration using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). The rate of copper leaching into the Moscow Mule cocktail was found to be significant and accumulated copper concentration exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for drinking water within 27 minutes (World Health Organization, 2004).  Any risk posed by the accumulation of copper, however, can be mitigated by serving the Moscow Mule cocktail in a copper mug lined with stainless steel to avoid direct contact of the acidic liquid with the copper surface directly, as stipulated by the Food and Drug Administration model Food Code.


January 2022
January/February 2022
84.6 | 8-13
Caroline R. Pharr, PhD, Department of Chemistry, Carroll College, John G. Rowley, PhD, Department of Chemistry, Carroll College, Monika Weber, Department of Chemistry, Carroll College, Dain Adams, Department of Chemistry, Carroll College

The Rabies Prevention Program at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) recognized that their annual laboratory testing data wasn’t working for them or their constituents, even though they were publicly available. They collaborated with the Bureau of Laboratories and the Department's GIS office to develop a user-friendly mapping application - Rabies By The Numbers. Learn how the information is being leveraged to benefit all stakeholders, and how your data could do the same for you.

Presented at NEHA 2015 AEC

July 2015
Additional Topics A to Z: Zoonotic Diseases


Radon gas exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers in the U.S. People exposed to elevated levels of radon gas have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Public health workers are change agents and their roles in protecting and improving the health of their communities are well documented. This study surveyed 386 public health educators, health officers, nurses, and registered environmental health specialists working in public health departments. We found significant differences (p < .01) in knowledge about radon gas exposure among public health workers. These findings suggest that the role of public health workers in disseminating information about environmental hazards to the communities they serve should be well-defined. Government agencies, including public health departments, will have to combine efforts to achieve the long-term goal of the 1988 Indoor Radon Abatement Act (IRAA). Training of public health workers about environmental hazards should be a priority to achieve the IRAA goal.


January 2020
January/February 2020
82.6 | 22-28
Paschal Nwako, MPH, PhD, REHS, DAAS, Camden County Department of Health and Human Services, Terrence Cahill, EdD, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Seton Hall University
Additional Topics A to Z: Radon

Risk communication on the health effects of radon encounters many challenges and requires a variety of risk communication strategies and approaches. The concern over radon exposure and its health effects may vary according to people’s level of knowledge and receptivity. Homeowners in radon-prone areas are usually more informed and have greater concern over those not living in radon-prone areas. The latter group is often found to be resistant to testing. In British Columbia as well as many other parts of the country, some homes have been lying outside of the radon-prone areas have radon levels above the Canadian guideline, which is the reason Health Canada recommends that all homes should be tested.

Over the last five years, the Environment Health Program (EHP) of Health Canada in the British Columbia region has been using a variety of different approaches in their radon risk communications through social media, workshops, webinars, public forums, poster contests, radon distribution maps, public inquiries, tradeshows and conference events, and partnership with different jurisdictions and nongovernmental organizations. The valuable lessons learned from these approaches are discussed in this special report.

January 2016
January/February 2016
78.6 | 102-106
Winnie Cheng, MET
Additional Topics A to Z: Radon

Article Abstract

In the study discussed in this article, 27 private drinking water wells located in a rural Colorado mountain community were sampled for radon contamination and compared against (a) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA’s) proposed maximum contaminant level (MCL), (b) the U.S. EPA proposed alternate maximum contaminate level (AMCL), and (c) the average radon level measured in the local municipal drinking water system. The data from the authors’ study found that 100% of the wells within the study population had radon levels in excess of the U.S. EPA MCL, 37% were in excess of the U.S. EPA AMCL, and 100% of wells had radon levels greater than that found in the local municipal drinking water system. Radon contamination in one well was found to be 715 times greater than the U.S. EPA MCL, 54 times greater than the U.S. EPA AMLC, and 36,983 times greater than that found in the local municipal drinking water system. According to the research data and the reviewed literature, the results indicate that this population has a unique and elevated contamination profile and suggest that radon-contaminated drinking water from private wells can present a significant public health concern.  

August 2015
November 2013
76.4 | 18-24
Michael Anthony Cappello, MPH, PhD, REHS, Aimee Ferraro, MPH, PhD, Aaron B.Mendelsohn, MPH, PhD, Angela Witt Prehn, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: Radon


On October 2, 2014, the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (LPPP) received a 61 μg/dL venous blood lead concentration (VBLC) report describing a 3-year-old female refugee. A VBLC above 45 µg/dL in a child less than 72 months requires an aggressive medical and lead hazard exposure intervention because encephalopathy risk is increased. To achieve these intervention objectives, LPPP managers must determine which LPPP stakeholders can respond, contact the parent/guardian and property owner, alert the LPPP stakeholder network, assess lead hazards in the victim’s environment, ensure the victim has a lead-safe dwelling, and monitor critical medical (e.g., treatment prognosis, VBLC reports, treatment discharge date, etc.) and environmental interventions (e.g., assure all lead-safe environment tasks are completed). This special report describes the DCHD protocol developed to ensure rapid environmental health responses to severe pediatric lead poisoning.


July 2018
July/August 2018
81.1 | 22-28
Larry W. Figgs, MPH, PhD, REHS/RS, Douglas County Health Department, Amy Bresel, DC, Douglas County Health Department, Khari Muhammad, Douglas County Health Department


We investigated an outbreak of eight Legionnaires’ disease cases among persons living in an urban residential community of 60,000 people. Possible environmental sources included two active cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings) <1 km from patient residences, a market misting system, a community-wide water system used for heating and cooling, and potable water. To support a timely public health response, we used real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify Legionella DNA in environmental samples within hours of specimen collection. We detected L. pneumophila serogroup 1 DNA only at a power plant cooling tower, supporting the decision to order remediation before culture results were available. An isolate from a power plant cooling tower sample was indistinguishable from a patient isolate by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, suggesting the cooling tower was the outbreak source. PCR results were available <1 day after sample collection, and culture results were available as early as 5 days after plating. PCR is a valuable tool for identifying Legionella DNA in environmental samples in outbreak settings.

April 2018
April 2018
80.8 | 8-12
Isaac Benowitz, MD, Epidemic Intelligence Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Fitzhenry, PhD, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Christopher Boyd, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Michelle Dickinson, MPH, New York State Department of Health