Tag Archives: Physical Environments

An Interdisciplinary Population Health Approach to the Radon Health Risk Management in Canada

Authors: Selim M. Khan, James Gomes


Radon is a known carcinogen found in indoor air that exists at higher than the federal reference level (200 Bq/m3) in about 10% of Canadian homes. Every year, over 3,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer, which accounts for 16% of annual lung cancer deaths in Canada. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers and is second among smokers. Children, women, and smokers from lower income groups are disproportionately affected. Although the Federal Government has reset the guideline (from the previous 600 Bq/m3 down to 200 Bq/m3) and provincial governments revised the building codes to limit exposure, there remain controversies with the latest scientific development in adopting strategies of radon management in Canada.

This review applies an Integrated Population Health Framework to look at the relationships and interactions between population health determinants such as biology and genetics, environment and occupation, and social and economic factors, that influence the health risk of radon. The evidence gathered supports policy analysis with the application of ethical and risk management principles that lead to the identification of efficient and affordable broad-based and population-level preventive strategies. The final inferences enhance the framework by adding critical intervention modalities to Health Canada’s National Radon Program.

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Addressing the Social Determinants of Health: Actions from the City

Social determinants of health are the social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health and well-being. Social determinants influence health as they define the extent of resources and opportunities that can be made available to individuals, given their social location (Marmot & Wilkinson, 2005; Raphael, 2009). They explain the health disparities observed among individuals and represent an important and continuing public health concern within the health promotion and health services spheres of research.

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Climate Change and Health Inequities: Contribution of the Interventional Approach in Population Health in a Quebec Context

Authors: David Buetti, Rana Annous

(The article is available in French only)


In a globalized world, climate change is yet another complex problem faced by public health. This article explores the consequences of climate change on vulnerable populations and the measures to mitigate them from an interventional perspective in population health, in a Quebec context. A literature review was conducted using seven databases related to disciplines in social sciences, health sciences and environment. Given the contribution of non-government agencies to population health, the literature review was complemented by reports from activist and community organizations. Results show that many sectors can collaborate with public health agencies and community-based organizations to reduce climate change and health inequities. In Quebec, three fields of activity seem especially promising: territorial development in urban settings, sustainable transport and mobility, and urban and suburban agriculture.  Arguing for a social ecological framework and a multisectoral collaboration, interventions focused on population health mitigate the consequences of climate change on social and health inequities. Some challenges and research avenues linked to their implementation and continuation are discussed.

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MCR-1: The consequence of antibiotic misuse and evolving resistance

According to a recent paper published the Lancet, a superbug gene that confers resistance to colistin, an antibiotic used to treat Gram-negative bacterial infections when all other drugs fail, has been discovered in China (Liu et al., 2016; TheStar, 2016). The gene in question, called MCR-1, was found in E.coli in samples from meat, hospital patients, and livestock in southeastern China. Given that China is among the countries with the highest colistin use in agriculture, resistance to the drug may have originated in that part of the world; however, new reports show that the gene is not restricted to China as the following countries have similarly discovered MCR-1 in bacterial DNA: Algeria, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Laos, Portugal, Thailand, The Netherlands, and Wales (TheStar, 2016). Some of the bacterial DNA analyzed and found positive for the MCR-1 gene was derived from specimens archived before 2015; therefore, dissemination of the gene has outpaced discovery, and the issue at hand may already be an international crisis.

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A brief evaluation of gluten-related disorders

In today’s supermarket, a variety of products labelled “gluten-free” can be found often targeting health-conscious individuals who are adversely affected by “gluten,” a protein found in wheat and other similar grains (Health Canada, 2012). Given the ubiquity of wheat and related grains in many processed foods, the government of Canada implemented regulations in 2011 that mandated the labelling of products containing gluten or gluten-containing grains in order to allow consumers to make informed choices (Health Canada, 2011). In current medical literature, the umbrella term “gluten-related disorders” is used to describe all diseases and adverse reactions that result from gluten ingestion. At present, there are three main classifications of gluten-related disorders: allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, and immune-mediated responses (Ludvigsson et al., 2013; Sapone et al., 2012).

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Human Health Effects of Dietary Aluminum

Author: Karine Landry


Aluminum is abundant in the environment and can also be found in most foods. To date, no convincing data has been found regarding the possible risk of ingesting aluminum through food, water and pharmaceuticals. This paper sought to review current literature to find evidence of the health effects aluminum absorption in the diet in humans.

The review found that the evidence is contradictory and as such, there is no established causation between dietary aluminum and adverse health effects. Many studies suggest a relationship between aluminum consumption and Alzheimer’s disease, but here again, the results are inconsistent. More research is needed to establish the risk of daily ingestion of aluminum through the diet, drinking water and the use of pharmaceuticals. Further research should be conducted on subpopulation groups, such as children, chronic pharmaceutical drug users and other vulnerable groups.

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Physical Environments

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently published its “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the highest pesticide residue. The American environmental association does so every year in the hopes that it will raise awareness about the hazardous effects of agricultural pesticide contamination and help consumers make educated decisions when purchasing fruits and vegetables. This year, it analyzed 32 000 samples tested by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and apples came out on top yet again, with 99% testing positive for at least one pesticide. In an attempt to reduce our exposure to these harmful chemicals, the EWG suggests that we buy organically grown –and likely much more costly – produce which have been shown to contain fewer pesticides. They also published a list of the “Clean Fifteen” foods least likely to hold pesticide residues, providing safer alternatives to the Dirty Dozen.

This is but a mere example of the long list of environmental contaminants that can cause adverse health effects. They are not limited to our outdoor environment – air, water and soil; they also include our indoor environment – housing, community and transportation. When our physical environment is compromised, rates of morbidity and mortality can increase dramatically:

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Will Climatic and Physical Environment Change Affect Ebola Distribution?

As health officials struggle to contain an outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever that originated in Guinea, and has already spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, renewed concern and anxiety has arisen regarding emerging infectious diseases. Caused by a virus genus in the family filoviridae, Ebola is a vector-borne disease with several species of fruit bats as the suspected (though unconfirmed and not necessarily only) hosts. Initial infection is believed to occur from bites, scratches, and even consumption of infected bats. Illness can result in high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and internal and external bleeding (CDC, 2009). The virus spreads via exchange of bodily fluids and has a case fatality rate ranging from 25-90%. In this particular outbreak, Ebola currently has an estimated fatality rate of 62.5%.

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Transnational trafficking of hazardous waste from developed to developing nations: policies and recommendations

Author: Melissa A. MACLEOD


Transnational trafficking of e-waste has become a rising problem over time as the amount of waste produced in developed countries increases. Over time, the focus has moved from traditional industrial waste disposal to e-waste disposal. This acceptance of hazardous waste often leads to adverse health effects in the importing nation. As a case study, the history, consequences, current policies, and recommendations for hazardous waste trafficking are considered in the context of West Africa. Following the analysis, it is clear that despite strong policies on the importers part, there are confounding factors, such as economic expansion and corruption, which continue to drive the import of e-waste. Therefore, the recommendations are addressed to exporting nations which generally have well-developed economies, political systems, and technology thus increasing the likelihood of control over the situation.

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A Review of Chlorine in Indoor Swimming Pools and its Increased Risk of Adverse Health Effects

Authors: Sara ANGIONE, Heather MCCLENAGHAN & Ashley LAPLANTE


Background: Chlorine is a commonly used agent for water disinfectant in swimming pools. Inadequate ventilation in indoor swimming pools and chlorination disinfectant by-products (DBP’s) caused by organic matter promote the increased risk of adverse health effects. Water quality and proper ventilation must be monitored to avoid health risks in youth and adolescents.

Methods: Studies were researched on children and adolescents from 2-18 years old who swim indoors.

Articles were limited by only including journals from the year 2000 through 2010 and contain global statistics. Peer reviewed scientific articles were reviewed and a meta-analysis of three different scientific research databases, PubMed, Web of Science and Google Scholar, was conducted.

Results and Conclusions: Children under five years of age, lifeguards and elite swimmers are at an increased risk of upper and lower respiratory symptoms, such as asthma, when exposed to chlorinated swimming frequently. Recreational swimmers who swim moderately are at a lower risk for developing occupational asthma.

Implications: Reducing exposure to chlorine from indoor swimming pools may limit the risk of developing upper and lower respiratory infections.

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