Environmental Health Resources for the COVID-19 Pandemic

Printer Friendly, PDF & Email

The transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, occurs primarily via direct contact with or respiratory droplets from an infected person. However, there is evidence to suggest that transmission via other modes – such as contaminated surfaces, aerosols, or contact with fecal material – is possible. As such, environmental health practitioners have a key role to play in promoting general hygiene measures as well as addressing unique information needs as the pandemic affects all aspect of public and private life.

This topic page has been created to promote key COVID-19 resources to environmental health practitioners and related professions. We are actively collecting and curating resources from more than 50 Canadian and international public health agencies, and will be promoting those resources via social media and by providing the essential resources on this topic page. This information is current to the date at the bottom of the page.

NCCEH Resources

  • Special Edition: COVID-19 Research Scan (NCCEH, 2020)
    This research scan is compiled by NCCEH’s resident librarian, and is current to April 2, 2020. The scan includes numerous articles relevant to the pandemic and is categorized in a way relevant to environmental health professionals.
  • COVID-19 Precautions for Multi-unit Residential Buildings (Eykelbosh 2020)
    This guidance document synthesizes the evidence on COVID-19 transmission as a means to understand how people in multi-unit residential buildings might be affected and how to best prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Using Shared Laundry Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Eykelbosh and Nicol 2020) 
    This poster highlights the simple precautions that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 transmission through shared spaces like laundromats and multi-unit residential laundry rooms.
  • COVID-19 and use of disinfectants and sanitizers in food premises (Chen, 2020)
    Based on the NCCEH document "Disinfectants and sanitizers for food contact surfaces", this blog provides updated information and general guidance to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in food premises. 
  • Coming soon…. COVID-19 and outdoor safety: Precautions for outdoor recreational spaces  (Freeman, 2020)
    This guidance document synthesizes the available evidence on COVID-19 transmission and survival on hard surfaces, and how that might be relevant for outdoor areas and decision-making on whether to close parks and green spaces

External Resources

Cleaning and Sanitation in Community Settings

  • Chlorine Dilution Calculator (BC FOODSAFE Program, 2020)
    This easy-to-use online calculator helps you determine how much liquid bleach to add to water to get your desired concentration (ppm) of chlorine solution. This tool was developed to assist Environmental Health Officers, food establishment operators, care facility operators, swimming pool operators, and the public to prepare the appropriate concentration of chlorine solution using bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Never mix bleach solutions with other cleaning products.
  • Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020)
    This web page provides general guidance on cleaning and disinfection of rooms that may have been occupied by COVID-19-infected individuals in non-healthcare community settings.

Death Care

  • Considerations related to the safe handling of bodies of deceased persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2020)
    This guidance document provides a European perspective on the possible risks associated with handling of bodies of deceased persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Safe handling practices, appropriate PPE and disinfection practices are explained for various settings in which persons may come in contact with the deceased, including the site of death, transportation to burial or cremation sites, storage and preparation for burial/cremation, and during burial/cremation.

First Responders

  • First Responders (BC Centre for Disease Control, 2020)
    This webpage provides advice and information to first responders to help them stay healthy while on the job.

Ethics and the Pandemic

  • Public Health Ethics and COVID-19: Selected Resources (National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy, 2020)
    This research scan aggregates value resources on ethical guidance for responding to the pandemic and provides a brief synthesis of each response.

Food Services

  • Food businesses (BC Centre for Disease Control, 2020)
    This webpage provides food safety and COVID-19-related information for grocery stores, restaurants, and other food premises based on current federal and provincial guidance. The drop down menus answers to queries around handling money, cards, and containers, as well as general sanitation and how to use disinfectants safely. This page is updated as needed.
  • FAQs for the Food Industry (Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University, 2020)
    This webpage addresses frequently asked questions about food safety issues associated with COVID-19. It also provides tools and resources to help food services and food industry operators to reduce risk of transmission and improve the safety of their staff and premises.
  • The Spread of a Norovirus Surrogate via Reusable Grocery Bags in a Grocery Supermarket (NEHA, 2020) 
    This document summarizes the results of a study to estimate the transfer of viruses from seeded reuseable grocery bags used by shoppers to other surfaces in a grocery story using a microbial surrogate. The study found that customers transferred virus from their reusable grocery bag to surfaces throughout the store including customer and check-out clerk hands, packaged products and unpackaged produce, check-out surfaces, grocery carts, incentive cards and handles.

Health Equity

  • Equity-informed responses to COVID-19 (National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, 2020)
    This webpage provides numerous resources to help practitioners apply an equity lens to the pandemic response, which is critically important given the exacerbating effect of the pandemic on many of the stressors already impacting vulnerable populations.

Indigenous Communities

  • Infectious Questions: Pandemic preparedness in First Nations communities (National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, 2020)
    This podcast series looks at various public health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including action in northern and remote communities, First Nations communities, and long-term care facilities. There are also episodes on engagement with public health nurses and general infection control and prevention.
  • Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (First Nations Health Authority, 2020)
    This webpage contains numerous provincial and federal resources aimed at supporting Indigenous communities and individuals during the pandemic.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Indigenous communities (Indigenous Services Canada, 2020)
    This webpage provides general advice on COVID-19 symptoms and precautions, and also explains how to ensure safe handwashing even when drinking water advisories are in place. Information on ISC’s emergency response plans, to the pandemic as well as any new compounding emergency), is provided.

Mental health

  • Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
    This webpage provides a reliable source of information on the potential mental health impacts of the pandemic and resources for coping with anxiety and stigma related to COVID-19.

Personal Protective Equipment

Persons Experiencing Homelessness

Public Transit, Taxis, and Ride Sharing

  • COVID-19: Guidance for the public transit industry (Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), 2020)
    This webpage provides concise but comprehensive coverage of considerations for maintaining continuity of essential public transit services and is relevant for service providers, their employees as well as service users. Topics covered include communications, personal protection measures for drivers and passengers as well as contingency plans such as separation of services.
  • COVID-19 Guidance for Taxi/Ride Share Employers, Drivers, Vehicle Owners (Toronto Public Health, 2020)
    This factsheet provides tips on hygiene, respiratory etiquette, maintaining physical distancing within vehicles, and cleaning.

Water and Wastewater

  • Online Resources for Canadian Water and Wastewater Utilities during the COV-19 Pandemic (Canadian Water Network, 2020)
    This research scan focuses on research and regulatory guidance specific to water utility manager and professionals. It also includes business continuity planning resources and well as considerations for compounding emergencies that may coincide with the pandemic. It is current to April 2, 2020.
  • The COVID-19 Virus – Water, Sanitation and Wastewater Management (Global Water Research Initiative, 2020)
    This fact sheet addresses the key points that may be of interest to water and wastewater treatment professionals and those who may come into contact with untreated wastewater. No additional precautions are recommended to address SARS-CoV-2, and existing robust hygiene and safe working practices for those who come into contact with wastewater or human sewage are seen as sufficient to protect against coronaviruses.
  • COVID-19: Eau potable et eau de baignade (Institut national de santé publique, 2020)
    This webpage addresses frequently asked questions regarding transmission of COVID-19 through drinking water, recreational water, wastewater, and bathing. Site is in French.
  • Survival of Coronaviruses in Water and Wastewater (Gundy et al., 2009)
    This peer-reviewed article presents a study of survival of representative coronaviruses, feline infectious peritonitis virus, and human coronavirus 229E as well as poliovirus 1 in filtered and unfiltered tap water (4 and 23°C) and wastewater (23°C). The study found that inactivation of coronaviruses in drinking water was greater at higher temperature. Inactivation in wastewater was dependent on the level of organic matter, and presence of antagonistic bacteria, however coronaviruses died off rapidly in wastewater. Spread of coronaviruses into the aqueous environment should be less than enteroviruses due to more rapid inactivation at ambient temperature.  
Last updated Apr 04, 2020