Environmental Public Health Journal 2015 | BCIT Institutional Repository

Environmental Public Health Journal 2015

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Mitigating hand contamination at recycling depots
Background and Purpose: Although the number of recyclers and amount of accepted materials and their contaminants has increased over the decades, the adequate provision of hand washing equipment to mitigate the transfer of infectious agents at recycling depots has not been well studied. Minimal Standard (MS) depots and STAR-Rated (SR) depots are inspected by Encorp Pacific (Canada) auditors, not health inspectors, and claim to provide adequate hand hygiene equipment. This study compared the adequate provision of essential hand washing equipment at MS and SR depots in Metro Vancouver to determine if they met public health standards. Methods: Inspections of presence/absence of essential hand washing equipment (tap with running water, soap in soap dispenser, hand drying equipment and signage) were carried out at 35 depots throughout Metro Vancouver (Vancouver West End to Abbotsford). Depots recorded with all components were assigned a Pass grade; depots with any one missing component or more were assigned a Fail grade. MS/SR and Pass/Fail grade was analyzed using Chi-squared test on NCSS 9 Statistical Software (NCSS). Results: Of the 35 depots surveyed, fails were present in both MS depots and SR depots. Very few depots had signage. Main reasons for Fails included broken hand dryers and lack of soap. All depots with hand wash stations had running water. Pearson’s Chi-square results for observed Pass/Fail and MS/SR depots compared to expected values were unable to reject null hypothesis (P-value 0.911 > 0.05) even when provision of signage was excluded as a criterion (P-value 0.537 > 0.05). Conclusion: There was no association between depot standard rating and provision of essential hand washing equipment. Lack of signage failed 74.3% of depots but excluding signage from the criteria failed 34.3% of depots. Hand washing is important in mitigating risk of infection from hand contamination from household recyclables and those sorted from waste. Inspecting depots and educating operators from a public health viewpoint may increase provision of essential hand washing equipment and increase hand washing compliance in public users., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2015., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Hand washing, Hygiene, Wash station, Hand contamination, Infection, Signage, Compliance, Metro Vancouver, Recycling
Sous vide salmon pasteurization temperature
Objectives: Cooking foods to a specific temperature and temperature control are often very difficult due to the frequent fluctuation of heat during the traditional dry heat (oven) cooking process. “Sous vide” cooking of vacuum-packaged foods immersed in water provides constant and controllable time and temperature measurements throughout the process. Some sous vide style foods are cooked at temperatures that are lower than 60oC for short periods of time. This presents a recognizable food safety concern including the survival of harmful bacteria as well as conditions that do not achieve pathogen reduction during either the sous vide cooking or finishing (searing) process. This research project investigated the time and temperature relationship for sous vide salmon in order to examine if pasteurization temperature was achieved if an additional searing step was performed. Methods: Temperature values were measured using data-loggers (SmartButton) for 30 samples of vacuum-packed salmon and cooked sous vide inside a circulating water bath at 50oC for 20 minutes. A one sample one tailed t-test was conducted to assess whether the internal temperature of salmon reached instantaneous pasteurization temperature of 70oC after a final searing step was performed at 220oC for 45 seconds. Results: Five out of the 30 (16.7%) salmon samples achieved 70oC after the final searing step. Statistical analyses were statistically significant, and the null hypothesis (Ho: measured internal temperature of salmon ≥ target temperature) was rejected with 100% power and a p-value of 0.00. Conclusion: These results indicate that salmon cooked sous vide style under 50oC for 20 minutes with a final searing step of 220oC for 45 seconds will likely not achieve pasteurization providing adequate pathogen reduction according to guidelines set out by BCCDC. For sous vide style cooked salmon cooked at lower temperatures for short periods, freezing for control of parasite hazards is recommended., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2015., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Sous vide, Salmon, Temperature, SmartButton, Public health
A study on allergen knowledge and its perceived importance in food safety
Background: Studies have shown that one out of every thirteen Canadians suffers from a significant food allergy, and that 1.2 million Canadians may be affected by food allergies in their lifetime. As food allergies are common, many would assume that allergen safety would be a significant component of public health promotion and food education. This study, on food allergen knowledge, is one step towards addressing the deficit that exists with regards to understanding food allergens in public health. Method: The study was conducted by surveying Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) nationwide using an online questionnaire. It was distributed via email with the aid of the Environmental Health faculty at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). The survey was also posted to the BCIT Environmental Health and Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI) groups on the online social networking service Facebook. The results helped determine whether opinions, behaviors, and knowledge level regarding food allergens and food allergen safety depended on having a food allergy themselves. Results: The data extracted from the survey was analyzed using the statistical software NCSS. The results of the Allergen Knowledge portion (t-test) concluded that there is no association between the score of the Allergen Knowledge test, and whether or not the participants have a food allergy, inferred by its p-value of 0.268010. The results of a chi-square test indicated that there is a borderline association between how often EHOs educate restaurant operators on allergen safety, and whether or not they have a food allergy (p = 0.049) Conclusion: The t-test performed concluded that the participant’s knowledge regarding food allergens was not dependent on the presence or absence of a food allergy. The second statistical analysis (chi-square test) supported an association between how often EHOs educated restaurant operators on allergen safety, and whether or not they have a food allergy. Health Authorities can use these results to provide a basis for establishing a food allergen training program for EHOs in the future, thereby raising awareness and helping to better manage the presence of food allergens in public health., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2015., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Food allergy, Priority allergens, Food safety, Allergen knowledge, Health promotion
A study on the public perception of waste-to-energy facilities in Metro Vancouver
BACKGROUND: Metro Vancouver is proposing a second waste-to-energy (WTE) facility to be built within the regional district. WTE facilities are used to reduce the volume of waste going to landfill sites. With Metro Vancouver’s desire to become the Greenest City in the World by 2020, WTE facilities are one option to achieve this goal. The proposal is currently in its second phase, and is looking for an ideal location. However, there are debates over whether the use of WTE facilities is an ideal method of municipal waste disposal. The aim of this research project was to measure the public knowledge and opinion of WTE facilities across various demographics. METHODS: A survey regarding knowledge and opinion of WTE facilities was generated and distributed online via social media platforms. Microsoft Excel and NCSS software were used to analyze the data to determine statistical significance. RESULTS: There were a total of 111 respondents. Demographic information was analyzed against the respondent’s knowledge score of WTE facilities. There is no statistically significant difference between educational background, age group, or place of residence and attaining a particular knowledge score of WTE facilities (p=0.51, p=0.31, p=0.22 respectively). The results indicated a limited knowledge of WTE facilities in the general public, with a mean score of 3.6 out of a maximum of 5. 59% of respondents indicated that they felt neutral towards WTE facilities, while 24% believed they were the most desirable method of managing municipal waste, and 21% believed they were least desirable. CONCLUSION: Results suggests that WTE facilities are not well understood, and not enough knowledge has been provided to the public in order for them to formulate a consensus on supporting or rejecting the use of WTE facilities. In such cases, the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) can act as an educator to help the public make an informed decision on the effects of WTE facilities and the consequences of different methods of handling municipal solid waste., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2015., Peer reviewed, Survey, Waste-to-energy facilities, Public perception, Air quality, Waste management
Testing for presence of radioactivity in food products imported from Japan to Canada
Following the Fukushima Nuclear accident of March 11th of 2011, many people, particularly among the general public are still skeptical about the safety of foods imported from Japan. Furthermore, currently little radiation monitoring of food happens in Canada. The present study aims to test for the presence or absence of gamma radioactivity in various food products imported to Canada from Japan. Thirty commonly imported Japanese and thirty-two additional Canadian food products were purchased from supermarkets and convenience stores in Vancouver, British Columbia. All samples were tested for gamma radiation from cesium-134 and cesium-137 using a portable gamma spectrometer, the EXPLORANIUM GR-135 Plus Identifier. All food samples tested in this experiment were found free of any detectable gamma radioactivity., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2015., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Japanese, Food, Fukushima, Canada, Cesium-134, Cesium-137, Gamma radiation
Vancouver community gardeners perceptions on soil health and contamination
Background: Reclaiming and converting brownfields into green spaces, such as community gardens, is a growing trend especially in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although community gardens provide a wide amount of benefits: health, social, and environmental, there are potential risks when growing and eating food from contaminated soil. Gardeners must take the proper precautions to reduce their exposure to such contaminants such as having their soil tested. Methods: The researcher gathered information via an online survey from 23 community gardens in Vancouver, British Columbia. Survey participants were asked questions regarding garden site history, soil contamination and overall gardening knowledge. Results: A total of 101 community gardeners participated in the study. The typical survey respondent was female, 30-49 years old, had less than 10 years of gardening experience with Bachelor degrees. It was found that no association exists between having soil testing and the location of the garden, park vs. non-park (p = 0.89712). Again, there is no association between the location of the community garden and gardeners’ feelings that their soil is safe and contaminant-free (p= 0.39521). Conclusion: Gardening in soil that has previously been contaminated through industrial processes poses a potential health concern. Despite this concern, community gardeners refrained from soil testing and remain confident in the safety of their garden’s soil. The absence of soil testing indicates a gap in the safety standards for community gardens. Therefore, mandatory and annual soil testing should be implemented with Vancouver’s community gardens to ensure the health and safety of gardeners., Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2015., Peer-reviewed article, Published., Peer reviewed, Soil contamination, Soil health, Community gardens, Vancouver, Brownfield, Green space, Healthy communities

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