SEGH Articles

Health Protection: Principles and practice

14 October 2016
Do you struggle with understanding how to respond to the human health implications of environmental contamination? Dr Alex Stewart, a medical board member of SEGH, is an editor and contributing author of a new text covering the public health response.
Do you struggle with understanding how to respond to the human health implications of environmental contamination? Dr Alex Stewart, a medical board member of SEGH, is an editor and contributing author of a new text covering the public health response (known as health protection) to such situations, as well as to emergencies and incidents of infectious diseases.
  • The text comprehensively covers health protection with relevance to practitioners working in every area of the field, whether in public health or environmental sciences or other professions.
  • There are detailed descriptions with practical examples of how to respond to rapidly changing emergencies and complex and chronic environmental hazards and situations.
  • Guidance is provided on the practice of health protection through case studies and scenarios; each one is a realistic insight into health protection situations.
  • Uniquely, the book includes quick reference checklists (SIMCARDs) which provide a hands-on way of dealing with and providing public health advice on different health protection situations (acute & chronic), through concise, practically-focussed crib sheets of essential information and tasks covering a broad range of health protection topics: ideal for use in the field or even exam revision.
  • The textbook is relevant for non-specialists such as environmental scientists, as well as public health and health protection specialists. For non-specialists, and those without a medical background, the first four chapters give the grounding necessary to use the remainder of the book in a practical way.
Health Protection: Principles and practice is the first textbook in health protection to address all three domains within the field — environmental public health; emergency preparedness, resilience and response (EPRR); and communicable disease control — in a comprehensive and integrated manner. Written by leading practitioners in the field, the book is rooted in a practice-led, all-hazards approach, which allows for easy real-world application of the topics discussed.
The chapters are arranged in six sections:
1 In-depth introduction to the principles of health protection
Case studies and scenarios to describe common and important issues in the practice of health protection:
2 Infectious disease
3 Emergency preparedness, resilience and response
4 Environmental public health
5 Health protection tools (epidemiology, statistics, infection control, immunisation, disease surveillance, audit and service improvement)
6 Evidence about new and emerging issues, including environmental issues and disasters.
The book includes more than 100 checklists (SIMCARDs), covering the three domains of health protection. Written from first-hand experience of managing such issues, these provide practical, stand-alone quick reference guides for use in many, if not most, situations, likely or unlikely, that can and will be faced in this continually evolving field.
Both the topical content of Health Protection: Principles and practice, and the clearly described health protection principles the book provides, make it a highly relevant resource for professionals within and without public health and health protection.
Health Protection: Principles and practice. Edited by Samuel Ghebrehewet, Alex G. Stewart, David Baxter, Paul Shears, David Conrad, Merav Kliner. Oxford: OUP, 2016. Pp480
ISBN-10: 0198745478  ISBN-13: 978-0198745471
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Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Assessment of the toxicity of silicon nanooxide in relation to various components of the agroecosystem under the conditions of the model experiment 2018-08-18


    Investigation of SiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) effect on Eisenia fetida showed no toxic effect of the metal at a concentration of 250, 500 and 1000 mg per kg of soil, but conversely, a biomass increase from 23.5 to 29.5% (at the protein level decrease from 60 to 80%). The reaction of the earthworm organism fermentative system was expressed in the decrease in the level of superoxide dismutase (SOD) on the 14th day and in the increase in its activity to 27% on the 28th day. The catalase level (CAT) showed low activity at average element concentrations and increase by 39.4% at a dose of 1000 mg/kg. Depression of malonic dialdehyde (MDA) was established at average concentrations of 11.2% and level increase up to 9.1% at a dose of 1000 mg/kg with the prolongation of the effect up to 87.5% after 28-day exposure. The change in the microbiocenosis of the earthworm intestine was manifested by a decrease in the number of ammonifiers (by 42.01–78.9%), as well as in the number of amylolytic microorganisms (by 31.7–65.8%). When the dose of SiO2 NPs increased from 100 to 1000 mg/kg, the number of Azotobacter increased (by 8.2–22.2%), while the number of cellulose-destroying microorganisms decreased to 71.4% at a maximum dose of 1000 mg/kg. The effect of SiO2 NPs on Triticum aestivum L. was noted in the form of a slight suppression of seed germination (no more than 25%), an increase in the length of roots and aerial organs which generally resulted in an increase in plant biomass. Assessing the soil microorganisms’ complex during introduction of metal into the germination medium of Triticum aestivum L., there was noted a decrease in the ammonifiers number (by 4.7–67.6%) with a maximum value at a dose of 1000 mg/kg. The number of microorganisms using mineral nitrogen decreased by 29.5–69.5% with a simultaneous increase in the number at a dose of 50 mg/kg (+ 20%). Depending on NP dose, there was an inhibition of the microscopic fungi development by 18.1–72.7% and an increase in the number of cellulose-destroying microorganisms. For all variants of the experiment, the activity of soil enzymes of the hydrolase and oxidoreductase classes was decreased.

  • Seasonal characteristics of chemical compositions and sources identification of PM 2.5 in Zhuhai, China 2018-08-16


    Fine particulate matter is associated with adverse health effects, but exactly which characteristics of PM2.5 are responsible for this is still widely debated. We evaluated seasonal dynamics of the composition and chemical characteristics of PM2.5 in Zhuhai, China. PM2.5 characteristics at five selected sites within Zhuhai city were analyzed. Sampling began on January 10, 2015, and was conducted for 1 year. The ambient mass concentration, carbon content (organic and elemental carbon, OC and EC), level of inorganic ions, and major chemical composition of PM2.5 were also determined. Average concentrations of PM2.5 were lower than the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) 24-h average of 65 μg/m3. The daily PM2.5 concentration in Zhuhai city exhibited clear seasonal dynamics, with higher daily PM2.5 concentrations in autumn and winter than in spring and summer. Carbon species (OC and EC) and water-soluble ions were the primary components of the PM2.5 fraction of particles. Apart from OC and EC, chemical species in PM2.5 were mainly composed of NH4+ and SO42−. There was a marked difference between the summer and winter periods: the concentrations of OC and EC in winter were roughly 3.4 and 4.0 times than those in summer, while NH4+, SO42−, NO3, and Na+ were 3.2, 4.5, 28.0, and 5.7 times higher in winter than those in summer, respectively. The results of chemical analysis were consistent with three sources dominating PM2.5: coal combustion, biomass burning, and vehicle exhaust; road dust and construction; and from reaction of HCl and HNO3 with NH3 to form NH4Cl and NH4NO3. However, additional work is needed to improve the mass balance and to obtain the source profiles necessary to use these data for source apportionment.

  • Estimates of potential childhood lead exposure from contaminated soil using the USEPA IEUBK model in Melbourne, Australia 2018-08-14


    Soils in inner city areas internationally and in Australia have been contaminated with lead (Pb) primarily from past emissions of Pb in petrol, deteriorating exterior Pb-based paints and from industry. Children can be exposed to Pb in soil dust through ingestion and inhalation leading to elevated blood lead levels (BLLs). Currently, the contribution of soil Pb to the spatial distribution of children’s BLLs is unknown in the Melbourne metropolitan area. In this study, children’s potential BLLs were estimated from surface soil (0–2 cm) samples collected at 250 locations across the Melbourne metropolitan area using the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) model. A dataset of 250 surface soil Pb concentrations indicate that soil Pb concentrations are highly variable but are generally elevated in the central and western portions of the Melbourne metropolitan area. The mean, median and geometric soil Pb concentrations were 193, 110 and 108 mg/kg, respectively. Approximately 20 and 4% of the soil samples exceeded the Australian HIL-A residential and HIL-C recreational soil Pb guidelines of 300 and 600 mg/kg, respectively. The IEUBK model predicted a geometric mean BLL of 2.5 ± 2.1 µg/dL (range: 1.3–22.5 µg/dL) in a hypothetical 24-month-old child with BLLs exceeding 5 and 10 µg/dL at 11.6 and 0.8% of the sampling locations, respectively. This study suggests children’s exposure to Pb contaminated surface soil could potentially be associated with low-level BLLs in some locations in the Melbourne metropolitan area.