Environmental health

20 November 2017

Social and Psychological Dimensions of Mining Activities and Impacts on Quality of Life

Industry and government interest in Quebec mineral development, particularly in the region targeted by the Plan Nord, is leading public health actors to study development activities and their repercussions on health. To help the public health network better understand the health repercussions of mining activities, a review of the literature has been carried out. This review documents nuisance impacts on quality of life, as well as the psychological and social effects on individuals and communities living near mineral exploration and development sites. It also summarizes the impacts of fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) on the psychological health of mine workers, as well as identifying the social and psychological effects of the mine closure/rehabilitation phase.

Main findings of the literature review

Nuisance impacts on quality of life

  • Mineral exploration and development produce nuisance impacts, chief among them dust, noise,…
23 January 2017

Local Opinions on Risk and Recovery Management in the Wake of the Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster

Second of a two-part series, this document presents the results of an ethnographic research project entitled Préoccupations, opinions, apprentissages et souhaits quant aux risques et à la gestion des risques de la population de la région de Lac-Mégantic [Concerns, opinions, lessons learned, and wishes respecting risk and risk management among the population of the Lac-Mégantic region]. This qualitative study was commissioned by the Direction de santé publique de l’Estrie after the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster of July 6, 2013. Between July 2014 and February 2015, 57 semi-structured interviews were conducted with evacuated and non-evacuated residents of Lac-Mégantic, residents of other area municipalities, and socioeconomic stakeholders. The study makes no claim to represent the situation as it may stand at the time of reading or in the future. A number of changes have taken place since fieldwork was conducted in Lac-Mégantic, notably at the municipal government level and in th…

21 April 2016

Assessment of the Health Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields

  • This report is based on an analysis of scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals and on expert reports by recognized national and international health organizations.
  • Sources of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) are varied and increasingly prevalent.
  • Public exposure to RF-EMFs comes from two types of sources:
    • Local (near-field) sources
      These are sources to which people are exposed at very short distances, namely less than a few centimetres from the body. Cell phones and cordless phones are two examples. Exposure from local sources can be close to the limits established under existing standards.
    • Environmental sources
      These are sources to which the body is exposed at greater distances. They include microwave ovens, wireless Internet routers, smart meters, and radio, TV, and cell phone antennas. Exposure from environmental sources is generally much lower than established exposure limits.…
25 November 2015

Advisory on a Québec Policy to Fight Environmental Noise: Towards Healthy Sound Environments

  • Environmental noise, defined as noise emitted from all sources excluding those in the workplace, is pervasive and constitutes a risk to health and quality of life.

  • The review of the scientific literature shows that noise is a public health issue that can have multiple consequences, both physical and psychosocial. Environmental noise can be a source of sleep disturbance, interference with the ability to learn at school, cardiovascular disease, annoyance (discomfort, disturbance), hearing loss and tinnitus.

  • Environmental noise is a source of complaints and lawsuits, which are indicative of social acceptance issues. Public reactions attest to diverging interests in society, particularly with regard to the model and overall vision of land development and the need for tranquillity.

  • According to a conservative estimate, the societal costs associated with the effects of environmental noise amount to some $680 million…

20 March 2015

Individual and Social Effects of Changes Related to the Resumption of Mining Activity in Malartic: 2006–2013

Using a qualitative approach, researchers consider how Malartic residents have experienced changes in their community resulting from the development of an open pit mine and the effects of these changes on quality of life and social dynamics. They also collected residents’ opinions about risk management, their perceptions about health risks and their hopes and outlook for the future.

The main findings of the study are as follows:

  • The arrival of the Canadian Malartic mine improved the quality of life for certain residents and revitalized the economy.
  • The announcement and subsequent development of the mine had psychological impacts leading to feelings of distress, anger, demotivation, resignation and loss of trust in authority.
  • The mine also had social impacts, including increased inequality between residents, conflict and community polarization.
  • Among the social impacts, the two most often mentioned by respondents were the relocation…
11 February 2014

Social Impact Assessment in the Environmental Sector: health network support guide

Taking account that the social aspects allows to measure the human consequences of intervention projects on the environment. However, in Quebec, not a lot of legal guidelines, administrative or consensual suggest how to investigate these social situations.

This guide was developed by the scientific team on the environmental assessments of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec. It represents an abbreviated version of the guide published in French. The objective of this publication is to enable different actors involved in the process of impact assessment to understand the key elements and stages of the procedure for the assessment of social impacts. This guide helps to evaluate a social impact assessment, or to advise the implantation of the process so that they are robust and efficient.

The first chapter defines the concept of social impact by exploring its features and illustrating the words with concrete examples. This chapter outlines the social change…

17 October 2013

Summary Analysis of the Impact of the Romaine Hydroelectric Project on the Health of the Population: Monitoring the Situation in the Municipality of Havre-Saint-Pierre

The Romaine project offers a good illustration of all the risks of implementing major development projects in northern Quebec. The first major hydroelectric site in many years to be established so close to a small community, this project is opening the way for many other large-scale projects. Havre-Saint-Pierre is one of the eight municipalities which, along with the two Aboriginal communities of Ekuanitshit and Nutashkuan, constitute the Regional County Municipality (RCM) of Minganie on the North Shore. Havre-Saint-Pierre is the central point of Minganie and the seat of the RCM and of many governmental, municipal and regional services. The local economy, traditionally centered on fishing, has branched out in recent years.

Hydro-Québec's Romaine project is aimed at the development of a 1 550 MW hydroelectric complex on the Romaine river north of the municipality. Construction work on this complex consisting of four generating stations began in May 2009 and should continue un…

25 September 2012

Environmental Health Competency Framework for Public Health in Québec

Environmental health is a rapidly evolving field, and people working in this field have to deal with increasingly complex situations. Many environmental health practitioners need to develop new professional practices and update their competencies continuously in order to adapt to the new realities in the field. A group of public health experts set out to develop this environmental health competency framework in order to give practitioners an opportunity to engage in a process of continuing education.

To provide a common language and approach that will optimize the success of interventions, all of the professionals in a multidisciplinary team are expected to develop certain competencies related to public health as well as environmental health. That, moreover, is the raison d'être of this competency framework, which is intended for all members of the multidisciplinary team, whether their specialization is in health or a complementary field.

The framework is comp…

25 July 2011

The St. Lawrence Food Guide

The goal of the St. Lawrence Food Guide is to communicate information on aquatic resources of the St. Lawrence. This guide concerns commercial species of fish, mollusk and crustacean from the St. Lawrence river, estuary and gulf which are sold in Québec' s supermarkets and fisheries. The food guide gives information on nutritional and organoleptic qualities of these species. Also, a delicious recipe, easy to prepare, is presented for each species.

9 January 2008

Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2004 : Exposure to Environmental Contaminants in Nunavik: Metals

The Inuit of Nunavik are exposed to metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that are carried from southern to northern latitudes by oceanic and atmospheric transport and biomagnified in Arctic food webs. As the Inuit traditional diet comprises large amounts of tissues from marine mammals, fish and terrestrial wild game, the Inuit are more exposed to these contaminants than populations living in southern regions. Mercury and lead mainly affect the nervous system and can cause cognitive, behavioural and motor impairment in children and adults. The major health risk associated with cadmium is renal toxicity, whereas chronic exposure can also cause anemia, bone loss and cardiovascular disease. The objectives of this study, conducted within the framework of the Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2004, were: 1) to investigate changes in environmental contaminant exposure among the Inuit of Nunavik by updating exposure assessment, and 2) to begin monitoring emerging environmental contamin…