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Environmental health

​​​​​​​​​What is Environmental Health?

Environmental Health is the practice of ensuring that public health is protected from environmental problems. Health officials check a range of environmental markers (for example water quality, facilities) to ensure that public health is not put at risk from environmental factors.

Why is Environmental Health Important?

Conditions in the environment can affect a person's ability to maintain good health. A healthy environment includes safe water and food supplies, suitably built and maintained housing and community facilities, as well as proper treatment and disposal of wastewater & solid waste.

Coupled with new medical technologies and vaccinations, public health has made huge improvements to human health.  Important environmental health milestones include milk pasteurization and the disinfection of drinking water. Many diseases that used to affect people are no longer significant threats.

Making Environmental Health Yours

The Environmental Health Services in First Nations communities prevents or identifies environmental health risks that could impact the health of community residents. Corrective actions are recommended to reduce or mitigate these risks. The Environmental Health Program provides services to First Nations across BC.

Role of Environmental Health Officers

Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) provide advice, guidance, education, public health inspections and recommendations to First Nations and their leadership to help them manage public health risks associated with the environment. They collect data and observations to determine whether a public health risk exists, and determine what steps can be taken to improve conditions. Chief and Council are responsible for addressing the recommendations provided. Since October 1, 2013, Environmental Health Officers are employed by the FNHA.

All EHOs working in First Nations communities are certified by Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors​, a minimum requirement in British Columbia.

Environmental Health Programming

Activities such as inspections, training sessions and public education are provided routinely according to the frequencies agreed upon by Environmental Health Officers and Chiefs and Councils in their community work plans, or as required at the request of Chiefs and Councils. The Environmental Public Health Program regularly delivers services based on the needs of the communities and includes the following core program areas:


Drinking Water​​ 

The Environmental Health section of the FNHA provides:

• Public education about safe drinking water and risk prevention;
• Provides training and education material to Community-Based Water Monitors (CBWMs);
• Provides drinking water quality testing;
• Review and interpret drinking water quality results according to the latest version of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality including bacteriological, chemical, physical and radiological parameters; and
• Provides engineering reviews of water infrastructure project proposals from a public health perspective. 

Food Safety

• Food must be kept safe during storage, preparation, cooking and service to prevent foodborne illnesses
• Inspections are conducted for all food facilities to verify safe handling of foods.
• FOODSAFE® training program is provided for food handlers.
• Education is provided on safe handling and preparation of traditional and conventional foods.
• Notifications are provided of food recalls and alerts. 
• Investigations are conducted where foodborne illness is suspected or confirmed.


Healthy Housing

• A healthy home means that residents have the physical and social conditions necessary for health, safety, hygiene and comfort. Poor housing conditions such as mold, lack of safe drinking water, and overcrowding can impact on the health of residents.
• Public health inspections of housing provided on request.
• EHOs work with First Nation housing departments, AANDC (formerly known as Indian and Northern Affairs), and CMHC to help address public health issues in housing.
• Education can be provided on how to maintain a safe and healthy home.


Wastewater

• Waste water (sewage) is capable of spreading disease and can be harmful to humans. Properly designed, installed, and operated community treatment plants and on-site sewage disposal systems are important to reduce or prevent risks.
• New installations and repairs to malfunctioning systems are assessed for proper design and treatment.
• On-site sewage systems must meet the BC Sewage System Standard Practice Manual. Design and installation documents are submitted to the local EPHS office. 
• Inspections are conducted where there are public health concerns.​

Solid Waste Disposal

• Garbage dumps, dump sites, or landfills, can be a public health hazard if not managed properly. Toxic substances from certain household and industrial items may contaminate the air, water and/or soil. As a result, improper disposal at landfills, open water bodies, or existing sewage systems may negatively impact people and the environment.
• Waste disposal sites and transfer stations are assessed and recommendations provided to reduce or prevent risks. 
• EHOs work closely with First Nations, INAC, and other agencies to address waste disposal issues in communities. 
• Public education is provided to create awareness of proper disposal and protection of health and the environment.


Facilities Inspections

• Facilities accessible to residents or the public include those that provide health services, community care, recreation, and special events.
• Facilities are inspected for general sanitation, general structure, safety conditions, food safety practices, water quality, sewage and solid waste disposal, pest control, crowding and air quality.
• Education and awareness is available to facility operators, community members and leadership to promote health and safety within facilities.


Communicable Disease Control

• Promotion and prevention of diseases is the primary goal of environmental health inspections and activities
• Health surveillance, investigation and education are provided to address foodborne, waterborne, and vector borne diseases.
• EHOs work closely with the health professionals within communities (i.e. community health nurses) as well as regional health authorities to provide a coordinated response to communicable disease illnesses and outbreaks.


Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning

• First Nations communities need to prepare for and respond to emergencies such as floods, wild fires, chemical spills, storms, contamination of food or water supplies and disease outbreaks
• Guidance is provided in the development of emergency response plans to ensure that public health and safety is maintained should an emergency occur.
• During an emergency, public health inspections are provided of temporary accommodations, residential and public buildings, drinking water, food services, solid waste and wastewater disposal systems.
• EHOs work closely with the community and emergency operations centres to assist in identifying and controlling public health risks during an emergency situation and after the emergency has ended.

Environmental Contaminants, Rese​arch and Risk Assessment 

• People may be exposed to many sources of naturally occurring and man-made environmental contaminants. At certain levels, exposure to contaminants in air, water, food and soil can cause or contribute to a variety of adverse health effects.
• The Environmental Contaminants Program (ECP) funds research projects that explore the link between human health and chemical environmental contaminants. It helps communities address their environmental health concerns and to enable research capacity at the community level. It encourages the integration of Indigenous ways of knowing, Traditional Knowledge, and empirical science.
• Where suspected or confirmed risks from contaminants exist, assistance is available to interpret research results and provide recommendations to control exposure

Find your local Environment​al Health Officer​ 

OfficeName​​Phone #Email
Campbell RiverGreg Vos250-286-5870Greg.Vos@fnha.ca
Kenneth Gillis250-286-5871Kenneth.Gillis@fnha.ca
ChilliwackBrian Standing604-824-2608Brian.Standing@fnha.ca
Lesley Moody604-824-2606Lesley.Moody@fnha.ca
Mark Turner604-824-2607​Mark.Turner@fnha.ca
Fort St. JohnAngela Van Volkenburg250-787-7681Angela.VanVolkenburg@fnha.ca
KamloopsErin Maze250-851-4847Erin.Maze@fnha.ca
Fiona Goorman250-851-4829Fiona.Goorman@fnha.ca
Priscilla Cheung250-851-4980Priscilla.Cheung@fnha.ca
Rita Manueln/aRita.Manuel@fnha.ca
Tiffany Chu250-851-4848Tiffany.Chu@fnha.ca
KelownaAlec Johnson250-470-5098Alec.Johnson@fnha.ca
Grace MacIver250-470-5144Grace.MacIver@fnha.ca
NanaimoKaren Larson250-754-0212Karen.Larson@fnha.ca
Amber Lee250-754-4004Amber.Lee@fnha.ca
John Gibbn/aJohn.Gibb@fnha.ca
Prince GeorgeBlake Blok250-645-3007Blake.Blok@fnha.ca
Greg Tone250-645-3008Greg.Tone@fnha.ca
Prince RupertLise Fish250-627-3060Lise.Fish@fnha.ca
TerraceNeil Nabata250-615-5337Neil.Nabata@fnha.ca
Ray Haghighipour250-615-5334Ray.Haghighipour@fnha.ca
VancouverPaolo Ciocca604-693-6952Paolo.Ciocca@fnha.ca
Joanne Chang604-693-6951Joanne.Chang@fnha.ca
VictoriaKeir Cordner250-363-3143Keir.Cordner@fnha.ca
Williams LakePatti Joyce250-296-9136Patti.Joyce@fnha.ca

Environmental Public Health Services - After hours toll-free telephone number - 1-844-666-0711

Regional EHO Contact Info​

OfficeMailing AddressFax #
Campbell RiverEnvironmental Public Health Services
#19-1180 Ironwood St.
Cambell River, B.C.  V9W 5P7
250-286-5872
ChilliwackEnvironmental Public Health Services
#7-7201 Vedder Road,  Chilliwack, B.C.  V4R 4G5
604-858-0089
Fort St. JohnEnvironmental Public Health Services
#101-10130 - 100th Ave.
Ft. St. John, B.C.  V1J 1Y6
250-787-6043
KamloopsEnvironmental Public Health Services
#770-175 2nd Ave.
Kamloops, B.C.  V2C 5W1
250-851-4838
KelownaEnvironmental Public Health Services
#313-471 Queensway Ave.
Kelowna, B.C.  V1Y 6S5
250-470-5128
NanaimoEnvironmental Public Health Services
#201D-60 Front St.
Nanaimo, B.C.  V9R 5H7
250-754-0424
Prince GeorgeEnvironmental Public Health Services
#220-177 Victoria St.
Prince George,  B.C.  V2L 5R8
250-564-3272
Prince RupertEnvironmental Public Health Services
#451-309 2nd Ave., West
Prince Rupert, B.C.  V8J 3P1
250-627-4258
TerraceEnvironmental Public Health Services
3222 Munroe St.
Terrace, B.C.  V8G 3B5
250-615-5809
VancouverEnvironmental Public Health Services
#404-1138 Melville St.
Vancouver, B.C.  V6E 4S3
604-666-3356
VictoriaEnvironmental Public Health Services
#514-1230 Government St.
Victoria, B.C.  V8W 3M4
250-363-0179
Williams LakeEnvironmental Public Health Services
Box 4887
Williams Lake, B.C.  V2G 2V4
250-296-3223

 

Drinking Water Advisories

Drinking Water Advisory information is available on the Drinking Water page.​

​What to Expect in the Future

The FNHA is assessing ​health services and programs to ensure effectiveness for First Nations communities. FNHA Environmental Public Health Services will be evaluating core programs to ensure they meet the needs and priorities of communities. 

F​NHA Environmental Public Health Services strives for a level of at-home/on-reserve environmental health programming that exceeds that available away-from-home/off-reserve. As part of the FNHA ongoing engagement with Nations we will identify priority areas for transformation over time through our planning processes.

Resources

Find out more about the First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program (FNECP): http://environmentalcontaminants.ca/

Food Safety for First Nations People of Canada: A Manual for Healthy Practices: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/pubs/promotion/_safety-salubrite/manual-manuel-eng.php​​

Partners

Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Health Branch http://www.h​c-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/index-eng.php​

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/​​

Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors http://www.ciphi.ca/home

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/ab/index.cfm

BC Ministry of Health and Regional Health Authorities http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/socsec/​

BC Centre for Disease Control http://www.bccdc.ca/de​fau​lt.htm

 Environmental health articles

 

 

Drinking Water Safety Programhttp://www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/environmental-health/drinking-water-safety-programDrinking Water Safety Program
Environmental Contaminants Programhttp://www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/environmental-health/environmental-contaminants-programEnvironmental Contaminants Program
Environmental Public Healthhttp://www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/environmental-health/environmental-public-healthEnvironmental Public Health

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