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.

December 2020 issue of the Journal of Environmental HealthAbstract

To contain the COVID-19 outbreak and mobilize mitigation efforts, public health surveillance relies heavily on individual COVID-19 test results. A shortage of supplies, equipment, facilities, public health professionals, and trained laboratory personnel creates challenges for detection and management of the outbreak, especially in rural and underserved communities. Clinical testing might not be feasible or cost-effective for monitoring the community spread of COVID-19, especially in rural areas. Robust surveillance approaches with a greater coverage potential are needed for developing effective public health strategies during the current pandemic. Findings from recent studies show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be detected in stool samples collected from hospitalized individuals, which has led to a new surveillance approach for testing sewage to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. This approach offers a tremendous potential for real-time screening of community spread of COVID-19. This month’s cover highlights a guest commentary, “Sewage Monitoring in Rural Communities: A Powerful Strategy for COVID-19 Surveillance,” that explores the merit, limitations, and challenges of implementing sewage monitoring methods in rural parts of the U.S. to protect public health and inform policy and decision making.

 

December 2020
December 2020
83.5 | 8-10
Asli Aslan, PhD, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Gulzar Shah, PhD, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Vinoth Sittaramane, PhD, College of Science and Mathematics, Georgia Southern University, Padmini Shankar, PhD, Waters College of Health Professions, Georgia Southern University

Abstract

Industrial emissions, deteriorating or improperly removed lead paint, and the use of lead additives in fuel have left a substantial burden of heavy metals, such as lead, in urban soils. Much of this lead remains near the surface where it has the potential to impact human health. Exposure to lead, especially in children, can have lasting impacts on neurological development and academic achievement. Urban gardening, in particular, is an activity that could result in increased exposure to soil lead for many unsuspecting gardeners. During the summer of 2012, more than 1,061 surface soil samples were collected from an approximately 1.25 acre urban community garden in Terre Haute, Indiana. Samples were collected to evaluate the spatial distribution of lead across the community garden on the plot level. The results highlight the variability that can be seen within small areas of a former residential property, for example lead concentrations that are low (<200 parts per million [ppm]) within the same 10 x 10 foot garden plot as concentrations that are considered high (>600 ppm). Based on the results of this work, several areas of concern were identified and the community garden was reconfigured to reduce potential lead exposure to gardeners and the local community.

October 2016
October 2016
79.3 | 28-35
Jennifer C. Latimer, MS, PhD, David Van Halen, James Speer, Stephanie Krull
Additional Topics A to Z: Hazardous Materials

Abstract

Restaurants serve more than 70 billion meals in the U.S. each year. Annually, approximately 48 million foodborne illnesses occur in the U.S., yet only over 800 foodborne disease outbreaks get reported. From 1998–2013, 56% of the 17,445 outbreaks reported were associated with restaurants. While scientifically validated cleaning and sanitation strategies are available, microbial cross-contamination from environmental surfaces remains an issue. For instance, previous research shows that the cleaning tool itself can become a source of contamination. The objective of this study was to test if a flatware rest provides a physical barrier between contaminated tabletop surfaces and eating utensils. Data confirmed that flatware rests prevented the contamination of utensils from microorganisms when compared with utensils placed directly on surfaces inoculated with E. coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, and MS2 bacteriophage (a surrogate for norovirus). This study demonstrates that flatware rests are a practical solution to prevent cross-contamination of foodborne pathogens from tabletop to utensil, and potentially are an added layer of consumer protection.

 

November 2019
November 2019
82.4 | 24-28
Giselle Almeida, Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas, Sarah L. Jones, Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas, Kristen E. Gibson, PhD, Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas
Additional Topics A to Z: Pathogens and Outbreaks

Chuck Lichon, R.S., M.P.H., Deputy Health Officer at District Health Department #2 in Michigan, developed a Children’s Environmental Health Power Point Program with the financial assistance of the Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI.  The Power Points are approximately 25-35 minutes in length, allowing for a presentation to be made during one classroom setting, or to be used for a community presentation, allowing time for Q & A.  Some of the topics include: Sunwise, Body Art, Household Hazardous Waste, Meth, Recreational Water, and more.  They are free to download and use for presentations in your school, health department community presentations, or for media use.  Changes in the presentations should not be made without consent from the author, and/or the NEHA Board of Directors.  

The Sun Wise PowerPoint is available via the link listed below:   

Chuck Lichon, R.S., M.P.H.
Additional Topics A to Z: Children's Environmental Health

Abstract

This 2017–2019 project started with a systematic assessment of three independent environmental and occupational health-related doctoral (PhD) programs, which are sponsored by different agencies, institutes, and schools within Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey: Exposure Science, Toxicology, and Environmental Health. In addition, we examined other graduate and undergraduate environment-related schools, departments, divisions, and institutes with degree programs (majors and minors) and certificate programs at Rutgers. Then, we conducted a survey of students. Data collected can result in enhancements to connections between entities, with multiple potential benefits. For example, for Rutgers School of Public Health, data can inform efforts to increase student applications to both master’s and doctoral programs, as well as increase faculty participation in teaching and student advising. The project should result in more qualified student applications from students in their final year of master’s programs. Subsequently, acceptances into and matriculations from PhD programs should also increase. Overall, this approach should provide more continuity of scholarship at schools, institutes and/or other environmental programs at Rutgers. In summary, this project’s data can help support positive yet complex relationships across engaged entities at Rutgers and inform other U.S. environmental health programs.

 

April 2020
April 2020
82.8 | 28-33
Derek G. Shendell, MPH, DEnv, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, New Jersey Safe Schools Program, Rutgers School of Public Health, Nimit N. Shah, MPH, Department of Epidemiology, New Jersey Safe Schools Program, Rutgers School of Public Health, Laura E. Jones, MPH, Departments of Epidemiology and Urban-Global Public Health, New Jersey Safe Schools Program, Rutgers School of Public Health
Additional Topics A to Z: Workforce Development

Abstract

To assess the behavior and precautions that swine workers take during suspected influenza outbreaks in swine, six commercial swine farms in the Midwest U.S. region were visited when influenza outbreaks were suspected in herds during the fall/winter of 2012–2013. Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and type of task performed by swine workers were recorded based on farm representative reports. Between one to two workers were working on the day of each visit and spent approximately 25 minutes performing work-related tasks that placed them in close contact with the swine. The most common tasks reported were walking the aisles (27%), handling pigs (21%), and handling equipment (21%). The most common PPE were boots (100%), heavy rubber gloves (75%), and dedicated nondisposable clothing (74%). Use of N95 respirators was reported at three farms. Hand hygiene practices were common in most of the farms, but reportedly performed for only 20% to 25% of tasks.

May 2016
May 2016
78.9 | 22-26
Blanca Paccha, MPH, Victor Neira-Ramirez, DVM, PhD, Shawn Gibbs, MBA, PhD, CIH, Montserrat Torremorell, DVM, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: Pathogens and Outbreaks

Abstract

Previous research has revealed that firefighters have an increased risk for noise-induced hearing loss; however, firefighters do not reach an 8-hr time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 dB. The high variability in occupational tasks and intermittent noise exposure of firefighters offers an explanation for the low 8-hr TWA. Our study evaluated specific occupational tasks, firefighting positions, and fire engine noise during a live fire training exercise. Researchers then identified the tasks and firefighting positions that presented the greatest risk to firefighters’ hearing health. Firefighting positions were statistically significantly different (p = .04) in terms of decibel levels; we determined that the firefighter in the position of water pump operator experienced the greatest decibel level (91 dBA). Noise exposure while traveling in a response vehicle varied by the type of vehicle (p = .009), with the newest vehicle having the smallest noise level (81 dBA). Analysis of the data revealed that the occupational tasks with the highest noise levels were cleanup at the scene and cleanup at the fire station (88 dBA each).

 

May 2020
May 2020
82.9 | 22-26
Lynn R. Gilbertson, PhD, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, Donna J.H. Vosburgh, PhD, RS, Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
Additional Topics A to Z: Injury Prevention

This guest commentary examines a series of well-documented nosocomial viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks, including the October 2014 Dallas Ebola index case, to provide guidance for future preparedness and response in the health care setting. Hazard vulnerability assessments, occupational safety, relevant and appropriate personal protective equipment, and biosurveillance topics are discussed through the all-hazards preparedness lens.

September 2015
September 2015
78.2 | 28-32
Christopher Eddy, MPH, REHS, RS, CP-FS, Eriko Sase, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: Pathogens and Outbreaks

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