55th Annual Conference on Environmental Health


Conference Line Up

Three exciting educational tracks will focus on food protection, emergency preparedness, and water/subsurface sewage disposal.

Some workshop titles include: 

Environmental Health Implications in Public Health Emergencies Alysia Mihalakos, MPHRIDOH

"This session will provide an overview of the role of public health in the preparedness, response, and recovery phases of emergencies, using real-world responses as discussion points. Environmental health impacts and responses will be highlighted, from those that are familiar, such as food and waterborne outbreaks to  natural disasters, such as the historic flooding in Rhode Island in 2010 and recent hurricanes, to disease outbreaks such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic, Ebola, and Zika virus."

 Cockroaches..350.000,000 and still going strong - Tony Dejesus, Big Blue Bug

FSMA Produce Safety Rule - Laurie Pivarnik, URI

Regional Mosquito Topics: Mosquito biology, ecology, control, and diseases - Al Getteman

FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Food Regulation- Nicole Richard, Food Safety Specialist, Food Safety Outreach and Research Program

Emergency Response - Kimberly Langello MT, MPH District Emergency Response Coordinator

"Effective and efficient communication among regulatory partners is pivotal to a successful integrated food safety system and protecting public health. This is readily apparent when responding to a foodborne outbreak or emergency event. Often times, communication issues are included in an agency’s “After-Action Report,” under “Areas for Improvement.”

Kim Langello, FDA’s New England District Office (NWE-DO) Emergency Response Coordinator, will discuss current NWE-DO/State communication as established in the 2016 Communication Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Time will be allotted at the end of the presentation for conference participants’ questions, and feedback on how we can enhance the communication process."

Drinking Water: Regulation and Sampling to Assure Safety in Emergencies - Clayton Commons, RI DOH

"As with most specialists, water people are always amazed by how little most people know about their drinking water. In emergencies, water can become a critical resource. This presentation will cover some drinking water basics, including sources, how water is regulated and sampled, and some of the activities we undertake to assure continued water supply during emergencies."

Learning Exercises to Improve Organized Emergency Preparedness and Response Capability - David Balbi

"This session will introduce attendees to a public health perspective on, and approach to, organizing and implementing emergency response training and exercise programs. Using the Rhode Island Department of Health as an example, attendees will hear about various experiences using Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) tenets to design and conduct exercises as part of a long-term capability-building process. The measurement and value of training and exercise programs will be explored, with opportunities to discuss the returns on investment of these efforts."

Rhode Island Rapid Response Team for Food-related IncidentsGenevieve Caron, RIDOH

"Responding quickly and effectively during foodborne emergencies is critical to meeting the Rhode Island Department of Health’s (RIDOH) goal of preventing foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and death. Since receiving funding in 2012 to develop the RI Rapid Response Team (RI RRT), RIDOH has been working to improve its food incident response capabilities related to emergency preparedness, surveillance, investigation, control, and post-response activities. In this session, learn more about the core RI RRT infrastructure, recent capability development activities, and about a few interesting responses that the RI RRT have initiated over the last several years."

Backflow Protection in Food Establishments - Peter McLaughlinProvidence Water Supply Board

"We will be discussing some real life situations that occurred and how they could have been prevented as well as other likely sources for contamination. What to look for and where to look."

Safeguarding Shelfish Through Harmful Algae Bloom Monitoring in RI - David Borkman

"Marine phytoplankton are abundant in productive nearshore and estuarine environments where shellfish grow. The vast majority of marine phytoplankton are beneficial and serve as the base of the marine food chain.  However, a small number of naturally occurring marine phytoplankton species that can produce potent biotoxins may occasionally become abundant in RI waters.  Filter-feeding shellfish, a popular and nutritious food can accumulate phytoplankton biotoxins.  There is the potential for transfer of these biotoxins to humans if biotoxin-containing shellfish are harvested and eaten whether cooked or consumed raw.  The phytoplankton that can potentially produce biotoxins, and the impacts of these biotoxins on human health are described. The strategies used to monitor potentially harmful phytoplankton and biotoxins in RI shellfish growing waters as one step in the process to safeguard human health and examples of responses to recent harmful algae blooms are described."

Improving Food Protection through EHS-Net Research - Brendalee Viveiros, RIDOH

"Rhode Island’s participation in the Environmental Health Specialist Network (EHS-Net) has been very beneficial to our outbreak response during foodborne illness investigations.  Performing environmental assessments at food establishments during an outbreak has been critical to the success of our investigations.  An environmental assessment is a systems-based approach to determine how the environment contributed to the introduction and/or transmission of the agent that caused illness. The objectives of an assessment are to identify contributing factors and environmental antecedents, as well as to generate recommendations for informed interventions.   EHS-Net has also helped to reduce illness through food safety research and has increased educational outreach to the industry."

Rhode Island Rapid Response Team for Food-related Incidents - Genevieve Caron 

"Responding quickly and effectively during foodborne emergencies is critical to meeting the Rhode Island Department of Health’s (RIDOH) goal of preventing foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and death. Since receiving funding in 2012 to develop the RI Rapid Response Team (RI RRT), RIDOH has been working to improve its food incident response capabilities related to emergency preparedness, surveillance, investigation, control, and post-response activities. In this session, learn more about the core RI RRT infrastructure, recent capability development activities, and about a few interesting responses that the RI RRT have initiated over the last several years."

Relish Rhody: A Food Strategy for Rhode Island - Sue Anderbois

"Relish Rhody seeks to  build a food system that benefits Rhode Island families, businesses, and economy.  The talk will focus on Rhode Island's Food Strategy - the process for development, its contents and core themes, key partnerships, and early areas of implementation."

Hazardous Algal Bloom in the Narragansett Bay: RIs response to a biotoxin event. - Catherine White, RI DOH

"This talk will investigate how Rhode island will was affected by 2016 Pseudo-nitzchia bloom along with how these dangerous blooms can cause shellfish poisonings. "  

Food Donation Best Management Practices - Lorenzo Macaluso, Center for EcoTechnology

"Through a consensus building process with a number of stakeholders in MA, these BMP’s were developed to help food establishments, public health officials, and food rescue organizations maximize the amount of wholesome food that can be safely donated.  This will cover legal fact sheets on date labeling, liability and tax incentives, along with operational guidelines."

Compost Site Operations Management - Lorenzo Macaluso, Center for EcoTechnology

"An overview of operating procedures that are most likely to result in well managed sites, with minimized potential for odor, vermin and other nuisance. This will include reference to resources available that health agents can direct site operators towards for assistance and best practices."

Climate Change, Stormwater, and You: Greening Your Community to Improve Resilience - Stefanie Covino, MA Audubon

"Climate change affects communities in a multitude of ways and becoming more resilient to its consequences can seem overwhelming. This workshop, offered in partnership with a session on the general health effects of climate change, will focus on how water resources will be affected and how communities can improve resilience through nature-based solutions. From dealing with more and heavier precipitation and polluted stormwater runoff to managing increased likelihood of both floods and droughts, plus sprawling development removing nature’s capacity to adapt to these changes, communities are struggling with what to do. However, Low Impact Development (LID) and the preservation of natural open space (“green infrastructure”) can offer cost-effective solutions that benefit the triple bottom line of social, environmental, and economic benefits.

This workshop will briefly introduce attendees to the resources that exist to increase climate resilience, including partnership networks and training programs such as that offered by the Resilient Taunton Watershed Network (RTWN) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ new Municipal Vulnerability Program to create and implement local resilience planning."

Climate Change and Public Health in New England - Daniel Brown, MA Audubon

"Climate change presents challenges for preserving public health in a number of ways. This workshop, offered in partnership with a session on stormwater management impacts from climate change, will focus on the key climate changes affecting public health and how communities can address those challenges. Warming temperatures are increasing the risk of extreme heat waves, rising sea  levels threaten coastal infrastructure and emergency services, and stronger storms increase the risk of flooding and disease transmission. Changing ecosystems are introducing New England communities to disease vectors typically found farther south. Changing seasonal weather increases the risk for frozen pipes, summer drought, and respiratory illness. This workshop will introduce the key physical climate changes affecting New England, the impacts to public health, and strategies communities and organizations can follow to be resilient to those challenges."

Septic Passive Onsite Treatment and Dispersal Systems: Advanced Enviro-Septic and EnviroFin -  Mike Carbonneau , Presby Environmental

"Introduction to the new EnviroFin a passive onsite treatment and dispersal system. In the presentation there will be further explanation on how the system works, sizing, details on installation and assembly, designing systems, and case studies."

Food Protection and GIS: A Targeted Approach to Emergency Response - Sean McCormick, RI DOH

"In August 2015, Rhode Island experienced a “micro-burst storm.” The storm brought intense winds and powerful winds that caused significant impacts (power outages, localized flooding) in discontinuous and difficult to predict patterns. Upon identifying the storm impacts, the Center for Food Protection began response efforts to identify impacted areas and assess food establishments. During this process, the Center for Food Protection determined that existing resources could not adequately determine where the highest magnitude impacts occurred and where inspector resources were most needed.

After the micro-burst storm response, the Center for Food Protection collaborated with the Department of Health GIS Program Manager to create online accessible maps that inspectors in the field and supervisors in the office could review simultaneously. RIDOH acquired layers with data including: Rhode Island food establishments, FEMA flood zones, RIDOH Center for Drinking Water Quality public water sources, and power outage information. Since inception, this project has allowed the Center for Food Protection to respond to emergencies with greater efficiency and create a priority ranking for the most impacted food establishments to be inspected first."

Fishy Business: Demystifying Sustainable Seafood in the Ocean State - Anna Mercer, PhD Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation

"In Rhode Island alone, over 100 million pounds of seafood is harvested annually. Despite the bounty of sustainable, fresh, and healthful seafood harvested in Rhode Island, over 85% of the seafood consumed in Rhode Island is imported from overseas, and over 95% of the seafood landed in Rhode Island is exported out of the state or country. This presentation will walk conference attendees through the seafood system in Rhode Island, from the operational characteristics of the fishing community to the variety of species harvested throughout the year, and from the sustainability of the nation’s fisheries to the accessibility of local seafood products. The presentation will identify challenges and opportunities facing the seafood system, both on the local and international scale, and will provide conference attendees with a guide for sourcing and supporting sustainable fisheries in the Ocean State."

Norovirus: Fear on Campus - Bridget Sweet, Executive Director of Food Safety, Johnson & Wales University

"Norovirus on a college campus is terrifying, but when the university is also a culinary institution – the fear is doubled.  With four regional campuses, student clubs, culinary labs, food and beverage labs, hospitality food prep labs, contracted dining services, practicum properties and a cook chill operation norovirus is a constant concern.  While we educate our culinary students the risks of norovirus, and employee illness reporting – students attending our variety of other academic programs do not have the same concerns.  Overview of how Culinary works with EHS and Facilities to attempt to mitigate the risks."  




Last Updated September 9th, 2017.
The Conference Agenda is subject to change.

The Rhode Island Environmental Health Association works to protect and promote the health and safety of Rhode Islanders and our surrounding environments by educating, training, and advocating for all areas of environmental health. 


Rhode Island Environmental Health Association

123 Constitution Street

Bristol, RI 02809

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