Environmental health is historically an overlooked and underrated discipline. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the value of environmental health and environmental health professionals (EHPs). EHPs have a unique set of skills and knowledge that were, or could have been, significant in controlling the pandemic. This skill set includes a thorough understanding of legislation and regulations; the ability to conduct human health risk assessment and implement effective risk-control measures; enforcement, communication, and education skills; and a significant understanding of their own local communities. The opportunities for applying the skills of EHPs vary across the world depending on several factors, including legislative and regulatory frameworks in each jurisdiction. Here we present our early evaluation of the unique skills and knowledge base of EHPs and lessons that can be learned from EHP engagement in public health protection. We also argue that local knowledge and engagement need to be recognized as valuable tools in emergency preparedness. In our increasingly globalized world, mechanisms to maintain and value local knowledge are needed, which could be achieved by embedding the “value of local” into policy to ensure that the importance and value of local knowledge are captured. We also advocate for raising awareness of the value of public health, and specifically, environmental health.
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.
84.5 | 20-25
The Development of a Standards-Based National Curriculum Framework for Regulatory Food Safety Training in the United States
The Distribution and Public Health Consequences of Releases of Chemicals Intended for Pool Use in 17 States, 2001_2009
The Distribution and Public Health Consequences of Releases of Chemicals Intended for Pool Use in 17 States, 2001–2009
To keep swimming pool water clean and clear, consumers purchase, transport, store, use, and dispose of large amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals. Data about incidents due to the use of these chemicals and the resultant public health impacts are limited. The authors analyzed pool chemical release data from 17 states that participated in the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s chemical event surveillance system during 2001–2009. In 400 pool chemical incidents, 60% resulted in injuries. Of the 732 injured persons, 67% were members of the public and 50% were under 18 years old. Incidents occurred most frequently in private residences (39%), but incidents with the most injured persons (34%) occurred at recreational facilities. Human error (71.9%) was the most frequent primary contributing factor, followed by equipment failure (22.8%). Interventions designed to mitigate the public health impact associated with pool chemical releases should target both private pool owners and public pool operators.
76.9 | 10-15
While hurricanes are known to cause immediate destruction through flooding and strong winds, pathogenic diseases as a result of hurricanes are less recognized. Evidence shows that airborne opportunists and waterborne diseases are more common in the environment after hurricanes, as are visits to the emergency room for respiratory and skin ailments. In addition, infections that result from overcrowding tend to increase in shelters while mosquito-borne viruses can increase in number over the long-term. Understanding the effect of hurricanes on these pathogens in the environment can help public health professionals and the public be better prepared when major hurricanes occur, as well as decrease the incidence of illness and death after a hurricane.
81.6 | 16-20
Research has shown that ice hockey officials can experience a decrease in auditory acuity after officiating ice hockey games. We evaluated the effect of helmet visor length on the sound pressure level of whistle noise to which ice hockey officials are exposed to determine if visors increased the sound pressure level. A Knowles Electronic Manikin for Acoustical Research with an in-ear microphone and a sound level meter were used to measure noise levels during whistle blowing. The manikin was equipped with an ice hockey helmet and three visor configurations: no visor, a short visor, and a long visor. A pea whistle was mounted adjacent to the manikin’s mouth and configured to produce approximately 115 dB of whistle noise. We found that measured noise levels in the manikin ear were significantly different (p < .001) depending on helmet and visor configurations. Our study results suggest that longer helmet visors might increase ice hockey officials’ noise exposure. These results are of importance to environmental health professionals in recognizing noise sources that can increase the risk of noise-induced hearing loss from recreational noise exposure.
84.3 | 16-21
The Effect of Inspection Announcement on the Outcome of Food Service Establishment Sanitary Health Evaluations
This study evaluated whether a difference existed between one-hour and one-day notice on inspection announcements versus unannounced inspections on health inspection ratings of food establishments. Three hundred food establishments were randomly assigned into three sections of no announcement, one-hour announcement, or one-day announcement. Certified food inspectors performed routine inspections of these establishments for foodborne illness risk factors. Inspection results were analyzed using chi-square analysis. A significant interaction was found: those who had no notice were more likely to have an unsatisfactory outcome (4%) than establishments that had either one-hour or one-day notice (0%). One-hour notice did not result in a significant difference in outcome when compared with no notification. One-day notice did result in a significant difference in outcome when compared with no notification. This result suggests that one-hour notification is not a significant amount of time to impact the outcome of an inspection, but is sufficient to allow management to logistically prepare for an inspection and still maintain the objective of the inspection process.
79.6 | 14-18
Following the “fetal origins of adult disease” hypothesis, environmental determinants of birth weight regained interest. The authors applied a detailed spatial-time exposure model for climatological factors thought to affect fetal growth: seasonality, temperature, and sunshine. Daily climatological data (29 stations) were linked to 1,460,401 term births with an individual exposure matrix for each pregnancy. Linear regression was utilized to determine effects of climatological factors on individual birth weight and existing spatial variations in birth weight. In the Netherlands substantial regional climatological differences exist. Summer was associated with significantly reduced birth weight (16–19 g). Minimum and maximum temperatures were significantly associated with increased and reduced birth weight, respectively. Spatial birth weight differences ranged from -11 to +25 g, with lowest birth weights in inland areas. The authors demonstrate birth weight to be associated with climatological factors; negative birth weight effects of maximum temperature exposure confirm results from animal studies. Consequently, a climate footprint is visible in the spatial birth weight differences.
Prepublished online December 2015. Final publication January/February 2016 (78.6). | 1-10