Environmental Public Health Journal 2014 | BCIT Institutional Repository

Environmental Public Health Journal 2014

Are Ministry of Environment holding times for nitrate and nitrite tests in drinking water justified?
Background: Exposure to nitrate and nitrite in high concentration is associated with various health issues in humans such as methemoglobinemia, gastric and bladder cancers. Surface and ground water is vulnerable to nitrate and nitrite contamination which can have a significant impact to communities that use the water for consumption. Methods: Ion chromatography analysis of nitrate and nitrite degradation over time in well water from Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer was performed in an analytical chemistry study. Nitrate and nitrite test strips marketed for testing drinking water were also used and results were compared to ion chromatography results. Results: Test strips used were unable to detect the level of nitrate/nitrite in the well water sample drawn from the Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer. Ion chromatography, IC, methods were able to detect measurable amounts of nitrates which resulted from concentrations of 1.17 mg/L NO3 as N to 1.13 mg/L NO3 as N from day 0 to 31 of the sampling date. The concentration decreased 0.04 mg/L NO3 as N over 31 days. Nitrites tested by IC were below the detection limit. Conclusion: In regards to nitrates, the MOE holding times are justified in that the concentrations were statistically different (p = 0.0001) from day 0 to day 31 from the sampling date indicating a change of concentration of the chemical due to time. However, the difference was not of a magnitude that may impact public health practices/policies. Test strips comparisons with EPA IC methods were non-conclusive since test strips were unable to detect measurable amounts of nitrate/nitrites. Future studies of nitrate concentrations with respect to chemical and biological components in water may lead to a greater understanding of its change in the environment and thus its association with other potential health hazards., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, holding times, gastric, bladder, test strips, Ion Chromatography, e.coli
Effects of light emissions from LCD monitors on public health
Background: Evidence suggests that exposure to prolonged use of computer monitors may lead to eye discomforts such as eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches, as well as computer vision syndrome. With the increase of internet and computer use at school and work, it raises a serious concern on whether or not the users are affected negatively. Objectives: The following study focuses on estimating the risk of using computers at the British Columbia Technology of Institute (BCIT) laboratories to determine if there is sufficient room lighting (illuminance) and monitor brightness (luminance) to ensure the safety of students at the school. Methods: Illuminance and luminance were both measured by means of a calibrated Unfors Xi light detector connected to a base unit. Several areas of each environment and monitor were measured and average values were taken to ensure that the data was reliable. The data were compared to applicable standards to determine if room lighting and computer brightness at BCIT were appropriate for safe student use. Results: The average illuminance was measured to be 405.4 Lux when the recommended level is 500 Lux. The results are considered statistically significant (p-value = 2x10-6). On the other hand, the luminance measurements averaged a reading of 94.6 cd/cm2 when the recommended minimum luminance level is 80 cd/cm2 (p-value = 0.99964). Discussion: The collected data show that the illuminance inside the BCIT laboratories where testing was conducted is not sufficient while the luminance of computer screens was found acceptable. Conclusion: The measurement of the illuminance inside BCIT laboratories showed that room lighting was insufficient and alternations of the monitor's brightness were made to compensate for insufficient lighting. It is recommended to increase room lighting in the tested laboratories in order to have all areas of the laboratory sufficiently lit at all times. This is to ensure that all students at BCIT are provided with a safe and healthy environment for computer use., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, LCD, illuminance, luminance, monitors, Unfors Xi, Light
The efficacy of alcohol-based hand sanitizers used in a series, modifying the ASTM E2755 method with a shorter hand sanitizer application time
Background: Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are becoming increasingly common in healthcare settings in an effort to control communicable bacteria, viruses and fungi of health significance. Much research has been done on the effectiveness of alcohol-based hand sanitizers but few studies look at the effectiveness when combined with more typical usage, such as varying application times and amounts. Methods: We looked at the efficacy of the microbial killing power of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when used in a series of 5 applications. ASTM E2755 was used with the modification of a shorter application time (8 seconds from the recommended 30 seconds) of the sanitizer to better reflect actual healthcare worker usage. Results: We found an increase in the amount of indicator bacteria on the gloved hands of the subjects after repeated applications. However the increase was not significant enough in that a 2-log reduction of indicator bacteria was still achieved. Using a One Sample T-Test we found a very low probability value (<0.00000), indicating that the results were statistically significant. Conclusions: There is an increase of bacteria on gloved hands after repeated use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The results show a decrease in their effectiveness, most likely due to a build up of various non-alcohol components in hand sanitizers. However even with the 8 second application time there was still a greater than two log reduction even after 5 serial contaminations and applications. This cautiously shows that there is significantly less danger posed by more common shorter application times than originally thought. These findings have a potential impact on hand hygiene education as other factors, such as frequency or sanitizer amounts can be safely emphasized over application times., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Alcohol hand sanitizer, Hand hygiene, ASTM E2755, Application time, Nosocomial infections
Evaluating the health and safety knowledge of body waxing providers in British Columbia
BACKGROUND: Since the deregulation of the BC Cosmetology Act in 2003, esthetics has become a voluntary-certified trade. Considering the rising popularity of more intimate body waxing services and the potential for infections and injuries associated with these services, there is concern that BC waxing service providers have varying levels of health and safety knowledge. METHODS: The health and safety knowledge of BC estheticians was analyzed by conducting a knowledge assessment survey of body waxing providers from random clusters of 50 beauty salons in Vancouver and Surrey, BC. To evaluate which parameters affected the estheticians’ knowledge scores, ANOVA, t-tests and regression analyses were used. Chi square analyses were used to determine factors associated with the level of esthetics training. RESULTS: Health and safety knowledge scores widely varied (mean = 18.8 ± 5.5 out of 36 points). Estheticians’ qualifications were not significantly associated with whether the esthetician started practicing before or after the BC Cosmetology Act deregulation. 84% held a traditional esthetics certification and 30% had BeautySafe certification; however they did not necessarily score significantly higher on the health and safety knowledge assessment. Estheticians scored higher in Vancouver than in Surrey (p=0.046). The cost of waxing (p=0.0011) and estheticians’ perceptions (p=0.020) of their own knowledge level are also positively related to their knowledge score. Age, alma mater, years of experience, and ethnicity did not show any significant relationship with an esthetician’s qualifications or knowledge scores. CONCLUSIONS: Cost of wax treatment, esthetician’s perception of health and safety knowledge and location were indicators of an esthetician’s health and safety knowledge competency. Consumers should ask the esthetician to rate their own knowledge competency, opt for the more expensive treatment and if they have the option, choose a Vancouver salon over a Surrey salon. The wide range of knowledge scores indicate a gap in health and safety standards and thus, an opportunity for health authorities and the esthetic industry to collaborate to establish such standards., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, body waxing, esthetician, health, safety
Mechanically tenderized meat
Background: In 2012, mechanically tenderized meat raised public health concern when an E.Coli 0157:H7 outbreak was linked to the tenderization process. It was discovered that the machinery pushed the E.Coli from the surface of contaminated meat products such as steaks and roasts, into the interior, where it was able to survive the cooking process. Concerns were raised by Lorraine McIntyre and the BCCDC about this issue, and their desire to improve their knowledge base in order to adequately assess the risk. Methods: Data was gathered via a survey conducted electronically and by telephone. Questions were asked to determine the proportion of retail establishments that use their own tenderizing equipment. Questions also asked about other industry practices such as current sanitization and labeling practices. Results: The results of this study were that 24% of surveyed establishments mechanically tenderize their meat products. Of these establishments, 33% have a label that states the meat has been tenderized mechanically and 17% provide cooking instructions on this label. An association was found between mechanically tenderizing meat and establishment type, which suggests that grocery stores are more likely to mechanically tenderize than other establishments, such as restaurants. On the other hand, no association was found between operator experience and their level of knowledge regarding the risks of mechanical tenderization. Conclusions: Overall, this study has demonstrated the likelihood is high that consumers purchase and consume beef that has been mechanically tenderized at the retail level. The results from this study can be used to aid public health officials in quantifying the risk of mechanical tenderization at a retail level and aid in the development and implementation of new legislation such as mandatory labeling of all mechanically tenderized meat., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, mechanically tenderized meat (MTM), food safety, food retail establishment, survey, labeling
Safety of Chinese roast pork as determined by the water activity of the skin and cavity
Objectives: The increase in unfamiliar ethnic foods and the lack of guidelines available to evaluate their safety makes it increasingly challenging for Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) to ensure food safety. Chinese barbecued meats, for example, frequently undergo improper temperature control, causing health concerns for public health authorities. However, due to the limited studies conducted, the health implications associated with temperature abuse of this ethnic food is currently unclear. Hence, the following study assessed the safety of Chinese barbecued meats, specifically roast pork, at ambient temperature (21°C). Methods: The temperature and water activity (aw) of 30 samples of roast pork skin and cavity were measured. A one sample t-test was conducted to assess whether or not the aw of roast pork surfaces are below 0.85, a standard for safe display of food at room temperature. In addition, the paired-sample t-test was conducted to determine whether a difference exists between the aw of roast pork skin and cavity. Results: The mean temperature that roast pork was displayed at in retailers was 30.7°C and the mean skin and cavity aw were 0.70±0.013 and 0.81±0.009, respectively. The aw of the roast pork skin and cavity were found to be statistically lower than the standard, 0.85 (p-value < 0.00001 and at 0.001338, respectively). In addition, statistically significant difference was found between the mean aw of the roast pork skin and cavity (p-value < 0.00001). Conclusion: These results indicate that the whole roast pork can be safely displayed at ambient temperature provided that it adheres to specific food safety and sanitation criteria. These results can aid health authorities with guidelines development to assist PHIs with inspections and educate operators to ensure food safety., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Chinese roast pork, water activity, temperature abuse, public health, skin, cavity
Shelf-life study of a vegetable-based juice prepared using a masticating juicer
Background Home juicing has seen a rise in popularity because it gives people an appetizing way to get their daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. The roles of proper refrigeration, pasteurization, and acidification are all important in regards to determining the shelf life of a freshly made juice. As the general public may not properly understand these implications, this could become a major concern for public health officials. Methods A vegetable-based juice, made with carrots, celery, apples and parsley was made using a masticating juicer. Two versions of the juice were made, one original and one acidified. The pH, total coliforms, and total bacterial levels were monitored in both versions of the juice over a fifteen-day period. Results Analyses were carried out with the two juice samples. The pH values of the two juices were significantly different (p = 0.0000). No statistically significant difference was found in either the total number of aerobic bacteria or coliforms in the acidified and original juices. The relationship between total bacterial count and pH in the both the acidified and neutral juices were statistically significant, r= 0.7659, p= 0.0098 and r=0.7334, p=0.0158, respectively. No statistically significant correlation was found between coliforms and pH. Conclusion Although it was expected that the acidified juice would have had a lower levels of bacterial growth, this research project failed to show this. The total bacterial levels in the acidified juice was greater than 106 CFU/g on Day 8 and the original juice was greater than 106 CFU/g on Day 10. Regardless of the pH, the safest and lowest bacterial levels will be right when the juice is made., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, home-juicing, pH, acidity, vegetables, food safety, farmers markets, bacteria, coliforms
Survey of public knowledge level on the efficacy of alcohol-based hand sanitizers
Introduction: Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have received wide-spread acceptance in many institutions as a form of disinfection. Whether the public truly understands the mode of action of these products and what they are effective and not effective against has not been examined. The goal of this paper is to test the public’s knowledge regarding alcohol-based hand sanitizers and examine if there are any demographic variables that may contribute to differences in knowledge level. Methods: An online survey was created via Survey Monkey and distributed through Facebook, a social media platform. A paper copy of the survey was distributed to participating senior homes in the Lower Mainland. The knowledge scores were analyzed using Microsoft Excel and NCSS to evaluate whether knowledge scores are affected by demographic variables. Incentives such as water bottles and tumblers were used to invite participants to take part in the survey. Results: The knowledge scores from respondents in health-related professions did not differ significantly from respondents in non-health related professions, however both groups differed from those that are not employed (P =0.000060). Differences in ethnicity did not result in a significantly different knowledge scores regarding hand sanitizers (P =0.441511). Respondents who are over the age of 40 (particularly those who are 70 and above) and respondents whose level of education was high school graduation or less lacked knowledge regarding hand sanitizers compared to other demographic groups. The majority of the respondents knew ABHS was effective against influenza virus. Nearly half of the respondents erroneously thought ABHS was effective against Norovirus. Conclusion: Government agencies and public health officials should focus educational efforts on the population who are over the age of 40, particularly the senior population, and whose level of education is high school or less., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Public knowledge, Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, Occupation, Education, Gender, Age, Culture, Religion, Ethnicity
Survey of the general public to determine perceptions and precautions taken when choosing personal service establishments
Objective: Personal service establishments (PSEs) include tattoo parlors, piercing shops, and beauty salons. Many of the services provided have potential to spread diseases due to the invasive nature and possibility of cross contamination if sanitation procedures are not followed. Potential infections such as nontuberculosis mycobacterium, staphylococcus aureus and blood borne infections such as Hepatitis and HIV are possible. There is concern among Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), and professionals in the industry regarding the lack of regulations and training of employees within the industry. This study investigated the criteria and safety measures the public takes when determining which personal service establishment they receive treatments from. Methods: A questionnaire was administered online through social media and Google Docs. Inferential statistical analyses determined if there were associations between certain demographic information and the responses given from participants. Results: There were six associations that were found when comparing demographic groups (age, gender and education) with the survey questions. A p value of 0.021008 was found in the association between age and perceived level of regulation of the industry, a p value of 0.014407 was found in the association between education and asking about sanitation procedures before an appointment, and a p value of 0.008668 was found in the association of education and if participant asks for references. In addition, p values of 0.028151 and 0.011739 with associations of gender and education, respectively, and the participants perceived ability to recognize bad practices during a procedure. Finally, a p value of 0.029766 was found in the association of gender and participants interest in additional information about how to choose an establishment. Conclusions: There were six hypotheses that resulted in statistically significant associations between a demographic and the survey question. Over 30 year olds chose PSEs were minimally regulated, while higher education groups were more likely to ask about sanitation and for references before a procedure. Females and people with some post secondary education felt they were more able to recognize bad practices during a procedure. Finally, females were most interested in additional information about PSEs., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2014., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Personal Service Establishments, PSEs, PSE Guidelines, Staphylococcus aureus, Nontuberculosis mycobacterium, Hepatitis, HIV, BeautySafe