is growing that our environment exposes us to a number of potentially hazardous
substances. Public health researchers and authorities must protect human
health from environmental contaminants by broadening knowledge, implementing
health protection measures, and promoting safe, healthy environments.
Should animals be tolerated at a school attended by asthmatic children? How can we make owners of private wells conscious of the importance of monitoring the quality of their drinking water? What effect does spilling a chemical product in the home have on public health? Is the accumulation of chemical product residues in the blood a good reason not to breast-feed a baby? These are just some of the questions fielded every day by the health professionals and researchers of the Health and Environment Group, Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHUQ), Québec National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) and Public Health Directorate (Québec City region). These teams help keep Quebecers informed about their state of health and implement clinical treatment, prevention, and health promotion initiatives. They also issue warnings when certain situations are likely to threaten public health, they perform research and laboratory analyses, and they put forward measures to protect public health.
The health and environment group
For over 25 years, Québec has allocated extensive resources to public health and the environment. Its imposing, 125 member Health and Environment Group is divided into several teams that bring together professionals and researchers from such diverse disciplines as anthropology, biology, biochemistry, epidemiology, forestry, geography, geomatics, genetics, medicine and nursing, nutrition, psychology, the environmental sciences, sociology, statistics, and toxicology. Team members pool their efforts to answer inquiries from the public, carry out research, and work with a diverse array of partners (health and environment networks, government departments, universities, community agencies, municipalities, and private-sector firms). The teams have been assigned official mandates at the regional, provincial, national and international levels.
The interdisciplinary nature of the group is a major asset that enables it to thoroughly assess development projects and government policies for the potential health effects of their environmental impact, as well to provide teaching and ongoing training. It also benefits Master's and doctoral students in epidemiology, community health, and biology who enjoy supervision during their practical training and thesis preparation. Medical students and professionals in engineering, biology, biochemistry, and the environmental sciences also regularly receive training with the Group's teams. The Group is made up of four teams, one devoted to regional activities, one to research, and two others operating respectively in environmental and occupational expertise and laboratories. A number of professionals and researchers work on several of the teams.