Environmental Health Resources for the COVID-19 Pandemic
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.
- An Introduction to SARS-CoV-2 (NCCEH 2020)
This short evidence brief provides an introduction to the basic virology and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to inform the measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.
- Building Shutdown and Re-opening during the COVID-19 Pandemic (NCCEH, 2020)
This topic page is intended to assist property managers with enacting a temporary closure, as well as cleaning, re-initializing, and safely operating public or commercial facilities under pandemic conditions.
- Reducing COVID-19 Transmission Through Cleaning and Disinfecting Household Surfaces (NCCEH, 2020)
This guidance document provides information to public health professionals who may be consulted on the appropriate use of cleaning and disinfection products as well as frequency of cleaning and disinfecting in homes to protect the health of the public.
- Physical Barriers for COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control in Commercial Settings (NCCEH, 2020)
This blog discusses best practices, gathered from industry and public health, for designing, installing, and cleaning physical barriers. Barriers or partitions are being widely utilized to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk in settings where maintaining physical distance and/or masking is not feasible.
- When hand washing is not handy: Cautions for hand sanitizer use (NCCEH, 2020)
This blog provides some cautionary points on how to source, use, and safely handle sanitizer products.
- Masking during the COVID-19 pandemic (NCCEH, 2020)
This guidance document synthesizes the evidence on the use of masks as a control measure to impede the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. This document outlines the main types of masks, their effectiveness in providing protection against pathogenic hazards, and considerations for the safe use.
Environmental Public Health Professionals can Support Health Equity in the Time of COVID-19 (NCCEH, 2020)
This blog from invited contributor Dr. Karen Rideout highlights the critical role that environmental public health professionals can play in mitigating the enormous health equity impacts due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 Precautions for Multi-unit Residential Buildings (NCCEH, 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 (NCCEH, 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. This poster is now also available in Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish.
COVID-19 and use of disinfectants and sanitizers in food premises (NCCEH, 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.
COVID-19 and outdoor safety: Considerations for use of outdoor recreational spaces (NCCEH, 2020)
This guidance document synthesizes the available evidence on COVID-19 transmission its relevance for outdoor recreational areas. Considerations and options for managing park use are presented.
Environmental Health Research Scans: COVID-19 (NCCEH, 2020)
The NCCEH has produced 3 research scans that include numerous articles relevant to the pandemic. Each scan is categorized in a way relevant to environmental health professionals. The first scan covers articles compiled from March 1 - April 2, 2020, the second scan covers April 2 - April 20, the third scan covers April 23 - May 8, and the fourth scan covers May 9 – June 3.
Cleaning and Sanitation in Community Settings
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2020)
This factsheet provides tips for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, such as educational institutions, cultural institutions, public transit, and workplaces. Additional information is also presented for homes with COVID-19 patients. PHAC also has a directory of factsheets with specific information on self-isolation, mental health, pregnancy and childbirth, caring for sick children, and advice for a variety of workplaces for individuals. PHAC’s COVID-19 homepage is a key resource.
- List of hard-surface disinfectants for use against coronavirus (COVID-19) (Health Canada, 2020)
This webpage provides a means for consumers to determine whether a given product is believed to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, virus that causes COVID-19. Check your product for it’s Drug Identification Number (DIN) and enter it into the search box.
- 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.
COVID-19 Information Scans
- What We Know So Far About…. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (Public Health Ontario, 2020)
This series of reports provides succinct brief overviews of the evidence around COVID-19. Topics covered include the effectiveness of wearing masks in public, routes of transmission, asymptomatic transmission, and much more.
- COVID-19 Rapid Evidence Review (National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, 2020)
This webpage provides a place for researchers to share their upcoming or recently completed COVID-19 work. This effort is intended to reduce duplication of efforts amongst Canadian and international public health researchers. The results can be searched as well as refined according to topic area, jurisdiction, setting, and population.
- Interim guidance: Death care services and handling of dead bodies during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2020)
This guidance document provides information on safe handling of bodies, mourning services, repatriation of bodies, and bereavement and grief support.
- Safe handling of Bodies of Deceased Persons with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19: Interim Guidance (BC Centre for Disease Control, 2020)
This guidance document provides detailed guidance on the various activities involved in preparing a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 decedent.
- 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.
Emergency Response and Recovery
- Guidance for Local Authority Evacuation in a COVID-19 Environment (Alberta Health Services, 2020)
This guidance document provides an example of how managing evacuations and reception centers might need to be modified in response to the potential for COVID-19 transmission. The Province of BC has also provided evacuation guidance to the public, as well as guidance for works active in spring flood preparation.
- COVID-19 Considerations for Cleaner Air Shelters and Cleaner Air Spaces to Protect the Public from Wildfire Smoke (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020)
This webpage outlines considerations for establishing public spaces as cleaner air shelters during wildfire smoke events.
- COVID-19 and Cooling Centers (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020)
This webpage outlines considerations for establishing public spaces as cooling centers or refuges during extreme heat events.
- 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.
- Infection Prevention and Control for First Responders Providing Direct Care for Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Patients (Public Health Ontario, 2020)
This evidence review assesses the evidence on SARS-Cov-2 transmission and its relevance for the appropriate personal protective equipment required for specific roles and activities carried out by first responders.
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 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. The BCCDC has also created resources for food banks and farmer’s markets.
- 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.
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): CFIA information for industry (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2020)
This webpage provides information regarding the integrity of Canada’s food supply, best practices for those working in any food, plant, or animal production or processing, and other key concerns.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sharing the Harvest during the Pandemic (First Nations Health Authority, 2020)
This guidance document provides some additional measures and information resources to minimize the risk of disease transmission between community members who wish to share traditional foods within their community.
- 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 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
- Considerations in the use of homemade masks to protect against COVID-19 (Health Canada 2020)
This webpage highlights some of the concerns related to the use of cloth masks, alone or over top of respirators to conserve PPE supplies, and points to further health Canada guidance on optimizing the use of masks and respirators during the pandemic.
- Cloth masks and mask sterilisation as options in case of shortage of surgical masks and respirators (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2020)
This guidance document provides a brief overview of the effectiveness of cloth face masks and sterilization of respirators and surgical masks as an alternative in healthcare settings with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 where there are shortages of specialized surgical masks and respirators.
Persons Experiencing Homelessness
- Recommendations on Environmental Public Health for Temporary Shelters (World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
This short guidance document provides key actions to support and protect populations that make use of shelters and transit homes during the COVID-19 emergency.
- Infection Prevention and Control Resources for Homelessness Service Settings (Toronto Public Health, 2019)
This detailed guidance document provide infection prevention and control advice for staff and managers of settings that either provide shelter or services to people experiencing homelessness.
- Interim Guidance for Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020)
This guidance document applies what is known about COVID-19 transmission to the management of camps or other informal settlements of those 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.
Schools and Daycares
- Episode 11: Children and COVID-19 (National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease, 2020)
This podcast covers some of the essential information regarding children’s health and wellbeing during the pandemic.
- COVID-19: Community and Workplace Settings (Child Care Centres) (Toronto Public Health, 2020)
This tool kit from Toronto Children’s Services provides a number of resources for heightened sanitation and other measures to reduce the risk of transmission through child care centres.
- COVID-19 Recovery phase: Guidance to early learning and childcare facilities and day camps (Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, New Brunswick, 2020
This guidance document provides detailed information on creating safer conditions to enable childcare facilities to operate and what to do if an outbreak occurs.
School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review (Viner et al. 2020)
This peer-reviewed article provides a systematic review of the effect of school closures on coronavirus (SARS, MERS, and SARS-CoV-2) transmission.
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.
- Interim Recommendations Applicable to Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Workers (Institut national de santé publique, 2020)
This guidance document, available in English and French, provides recommendations to management and employees of water and wastewater treatment plants. Although the need for standard PPE is noted due to potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 among other fecal pathogens, the guidance focuses on preventing transmission between workers.
- 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.
This list is not intended to be exhaustive. Omission of a resource does not preclude it from having value.
|Last updated||Jun 09, 2020|