Sharing knowledge to strengthen climate action and community health: connecting researchers, trainees, and health authorities

The Environment, Community Health Observatory (ECHO) Network is a five-year research program (2017-2022) bringing together over 130 researchers, trainees, knowledge exchange partners, and community members. ECHO Network members have developed and refined a suite of integrative tools and processes aimed at taking notice of, analyzing, and responding to the health impacts of resource extraction, with specific emphasis on rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Acknowledging the existing research to action gap, as well as the applicability of many of our tools to addressing the climate crisis (an identified area of focus in health authorities), we are interested in hosting a reciprocal learning and sharing event between health researchers (ECHO Network), research users (health authority personnel), and trainees. We aim to: 1) Foster direct and reciprocal knowledge exchange pathways between researchers and health authorities to share and extend the reach of climate change-related tools; 2) Adapt research outputs to increase applicability of tools for health authorities; and 3) Promote intersectoral knowledge exchange training and capacity building among trainees, researchers, and health authority personnel.

Team members: Margot Parkes (UNBC); Angel Kennedy (SFU); Tim Takaro (SFU); Dawn Hoogeveen (SFU and First Nations Health Authority); Jordan Brubacher (SFU); Dionne Sanderson (First Nations Health Authority); Cody Thomas (First Nations Health Authority); Maery Kaplan-Hallam (First Nations Health Authority); Maeve Leduc (SFU); Sandra Harris (UNBC); Sue Pollock (Interior Health); Sandra Allison (Island Health); Christiana Onabola (UNBC); Katie Bauder (First Nations Health Authority); Holly Clermont (First Nations Health Authority); Diana Kutzner (First Nations Health Authority); Vishal Jain (Fraser Health); Krisztina Vasarhelyi (Vancouver Coastal Health); Raina Fumerton (Northern Health); Lars Hallstrom (University of Lethbridge); Lindsay Galway (Lakehead University); Celine Surette (Universite de Moncton).

Building Capacity for Surveillance and Policy Development: Health Impact Assessments of Air Quality in Northern British Columbia

In Northern British Columbia, a region rich in natural resources, there has been a rapid expansion of resource extraction projects across the region in recent years. While generating economic growth for local communities, this has also led to concerns among health practitioners and community members about the potential health risks associated with declining air quality due to increased industrial emissions. In the BC Northwest, in particular, projections indicate that sulphur dioxide emissions will likely increase in the Kitimat airshed due to multiple new industrial projects and expansion of existing projects.Timely information about air quality and associated health risks is important for developing public health policies, to prevent potential negative health impacts, and for planning at both local and regional levels. The objectives of this project are to 1) conduct a health impact assessment of impacts of SO2 emissions on human health in the Kitimat region; 2) make recommendations for development of effective surveillance tools to assess air quality health impacts in the region; and 3) review how local and regional policy makers use environmental health impact information for decision-making.This project will directly support Northern Health's organizational impact goal of healthy people in healthy communities, through promoting and protecting healthy environments, and through helping to build regional capacity for conducting health impact assessments and surveillance.