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.

Abstract

Pulling a cloth over the ground remains the primary method for conducting a tick surveillance survey. A person physically walking in the collection zone pulling a flannel cloth creates an opportunity for a human–tick encounter. Walking ahead of the drag cloth also disrupts the area to be sampled and increases the opportunity for a human–tick encounter. In order to reduce this potential interaction, a remotely piloted vehicle (drone) was used to pull the flannel cloth, which allows the drag cloth to be the first contact in the swath to be sampled. A small camera-equipped drone used to replace the human in dragging the cloth was found to be powerful enough to pull a drag-cloth over grassy or slightly brushy terrain. The cloth-to-surface contact was found to be similar enough to the standard dragging practice to result in similar numbers, types, and ages of ticks collected. Statistical analysis using chi-square and paired t-tests determined there was no difference in drag methods (χ2 = 1.9756, p = .37; t = 1.31, p = .22). Further tests are needed to confirm this study and identify other potential differences in human and drone tick dragging surveillance.

 

March 2020
March 2020
82.7 | 8-12
Tracy L. Zontek, PhD, CIH, CSP, University of Tampa, Burton R. Ogle, PhD, CIH, CSP, Western Carolina University, Robyn Hoover, Western Carolina University, John T. Jankovic, MSPH, CIH, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences

Article Abstract

Septic systems are considered a source of groundwater contamination. In the study described in this article, the fate of microbes applied to a sandy loam soil from North Carolina coastal plain as impacted by water table depth was studied. Soil materials were packed to a depth of 65 cm in 17 columns (15-cm diameter), and a water table was established at 30, 45, and 60 cm depths using five replications. Each day, 200 mL of an artificial septic tank effluent inoculated with E. coli were applied to the top of each column, a 100-mL sample was collected at the water table level and analyzed for E. coli, and 100 mL was drained from the bottom to maintain the water table. Two columns were used as control and received 200 mL/day of sterilized effluent. Neither 30 nor 45 cm of unsaturated soil was adequate to attenuate bacterial contamination, while 60 cm of separation appeared to be sufficient. Little bacterial contamination moved with the water table when it was lowered from 30 to 60 cm. 

Aziz Amoozegar, PhD, Christopher Stall, MS, David Lindbo, PhD, Alexandria Graves, PhD
Additional Topics A to Z: Wastewater

Abstract

On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, causing major power outages, flooded roads, and disruption of public transportation. Individuals diagnosed with diabetes may be especially vulnerable to natural disasters because of limited access to medications or use of glucose monitoring devices. We examined changes in emergency room visits (ERVs) for type II diabetes mellitus potentially associated with Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. Data analyzed in 2014 included ERVs to general acute care hospitals in New Jersey among residents of three counties with a primary or secondary type II diabetes diagnosis (PDD or SDD) in 2011–2012. Compared to the previous year, results showed an 84% increased rate of PDD ERVs during the week of Hurricane Sandy, after adjusting for age and sex (rate ratio (RR) = 1.84, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12, 3.04). Results were nonsignificant for SDD (RR = 0.94, 95% CI 0.83, 1.08). Spatial analysis showed the increase in visits was not consistently associated with flood zone areas. We observed substantial increases in ERVs for primary type II diabetes diagnoses associated with Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. Future public health preparedness efforts during storms should include planning for the healthcare needs of populations living with diabetes.

September 2016
September 2016
79.2 | 30-37
Enid M. Velez-Valle, MPH, Derek Shendell, MPH, DEnv, Sandra Echeverria, MPH, PhD, Melissa Santorelli, MPH, PhD

Abstract

Radon is a tasteless, colorless, and odorless gas that can cause lung cancer. Radon gas is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and is the leading cause of lung cancer mortality among nonsmokers. The goal of this study was to better understand radon gas exposure beliefs among public health workers. Public health workers engage in actions that enhance and improve health in the communities they serve. They act as change agents and can influence public perceptions and attitudes toward health risk factors. This study surveyed four classifications of public health workers in New Jersey (N = 386): health educators, health officers, registered nurses, and registered environmental health specialists. A questionnaire survey was used to explore their beliefs about radon gas exposure. This study found significant differences (p <.05) in public health worker beliefs regarding radon gas exposure, which suggests that the role of public health workers in disseminating information about environmental hazards to communities should be well defined and uniform. Furthermore, training for public health workers on the hazards posed by radon gas is needed.

 

January 2022
January/February 2022
84.6 | 22-29
Paschal Nwako, MPH, PhD, REHS, DAAS, Camden County Department of Health and Human Services, Michelle Lee D’Abundo, MSH, PhD, CHES, School of Health and Medical Science, Seton Hall University
Additional Topics A to Z: Radon

Abstract

The public health burden related to norovirus is well described as the leading cause of foodborne outbreaks in the U.S. Norovirus investigations present challenges due to low infectious dose, multiple transmission routes, and the rapid onset and resolution of symptoms. Environmental sampling for norovirus can provide valuable data during public health investigations and lead to targeted education and interventions. In some instances, environmental data could be accessible when other data sources are limited or difficult to collect. We describe use of an environmental sampling strategy during a foodborne outbreak investigation to support the hypothesis for transmission from an ill food worker to restaurant patrons.

 

May 2021
May 2021
83.9 | 24-26
D.J. Irving, MPH, REHS, Tennessee Department of Health, Danny Ripley, Metro Public Health Department of Nashville/Davidson County, Craig Shepherd, MPH, REHS, Tennessee Department of Health, Leslie A. Waller, MPH, Metro Public Health Department Nashville/Davidson County

Article Abstract

Household bleach is typically used as a disinfectant for water in times of emergencies and by those engaging in recreational activities such as camping or rafting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a concentration of free chlorine of 1 mg/L for 30 minutes, or about 0.75 mL (1/8 teaspoon) of household bleach per gallon of water. The goal of the study described in this article was to assess two household bleach products to kill waterborne bacteria and viruses using the test procedures in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Purifiers. Bleach was found to meet these requirements in waters of low turbidity and organic matter. While the test bacterium was reduced by six logs in high turbid and organic-laden waters, the test viruses were reduced only by one-half to one log. In such waters greater chlorine doses or contact times are needed to achieve greater reduction of viruses. 

May 2014
76.9 | 22-25
Charles P. Gerba, PhD, Sherif Abd Elmaksoud, Nikita Patel, Sherri L. Maxwell
Additional Topics A to Z: Drinking Water

Abstract

West Nile virus (WNV) continues to persist in Mississippi; 2012 was the worse year for human infections, with a total of 247 reported human cases and five deaths. Public health officials are keenly interested in ways to detect WNV in advance in their jurisdictions, so they can implement appropriate and timely mosquito control in affected areas. A total of 40,312 female Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes were collected by gravid traps in Mississippi in 2013 and 2014 and tested by VectorTest, a rapid immunochromatographic assay (“dip-stick” test) that is a highly specific and effective rapid threat assessment tool. This study evaluated if and to what extent VectorTest could provide advanced warning of impending human WNV cases in a specific area. These data were examined with regard to date of onset of human WNV cases to determine the predictive value of VectorTest for WNV activity. Both years, positive mosquito pools appeared before the vast majority (87.2%) of reported human cases. Overall, in 27 out of 37 human WNV cases (73.0 %) occurring in our study sites, there was an average advanced warning of 26 days (range 11–53 days) as indicated by positive mosquito collections near the patient’s home. This operational health department study, although somewhat limited, reveals that mosquito sampling and testing can inform public health and mosquito control personnel of WNV activity in an area and of impending human cases.

December 2016
December 2016
79.5 | 20-24
Wendy C. Varnado, PhD, Jerome Goddard, PhD

Abstract

Studies have shown that fecal contamination can be determined by conducting multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) analyses. The hypothesis is if bacteria exhibit resistance, they are likely to be derived from organisms exposed to antimicrobial agents. Therefore, this project seeks to apply MAR analysis to nonpoint source (NPS) and combined sewer overflow (CSO) areas along the Anacostia River in Washington, DC. Presumptive E. coli was isolated from NPS and CSO samples and tested with eight different antimicrobial agents to assess MAR indices. Isolates from CSO sources showed significantly greater resistance (p < .05) and higher MAR indices, with an average MAR index of 0.36 for CSO samples and 0.07 for NPS samples. It was also revealed that 96.9% of CSO isolates exhibited resistance, versus only 43.8% of NPS isolates. Our study on the Anacostia River using this approach clearly shows fecal coliforms are associated with CSO overflows, indicating that pollution-derived coliform levels are strongly linked to antimicrobial resistance. The implementation of this method as an index for water quality in the remediation of the Anacostia River has the ability to serve as a model and monitoring tool for the rehabilitation of urban watersheds.

October 2016
October 2016
79.3 | 36-39
Gaurav Dhiman, Emma N. Burns, David W. Morris, PhD

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