Bringing educators, students, researchers and practitioners together to discuss cross-border issues

mountains reflecting on a lake
Another successful Cascadia Symposium on Environmental, Occupational and Population Health

February 2, 2024

In early January 2024, NWCOHS faculty, staff and trainees participated in the 2024 Annual Cascadia Symposium on Environmental, Occupational, and Population Health at Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Washington. 

The symposium was very successful event, with over 140 attendees from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. The theme for the conference was “Borders, Intersections and Boundaries: Issues at the Nexus of Environment, Occupation and Population Health”. 

David Bates Memorial Lecture and Plenary Sessions

Sarah Henderson, Scientific Director of Environmental Health Services, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, delivered a stimulating David Bates Memorial Lecture entitled “The New Pollution”. In her talk, Dr. Henderson summarized recent data that illustrated increasing exposures to wildfire smoke in North America in recent years. Dr. Henderson also discussed the health effects associated with these exposures. She noted that while catastrophic large wildfire events capture the attention of the media and politicians, at a population level, the greatest cumulative burden of health impacts occurs at much lower levels of smoke exposure. 

Following Dr. Henderson’s talk, there were three plenary sessions on wildfire smoke, occupational health disparities, and occupational exposures to fentanyl. NWCOHS Deputy Director and Industrial Hygiene Program Director, Dr. Marissa Baker presented on the fentanyl exposure panel. The wood smoke plenary session included a description of the new Washington State Wildfire Smoke rule from NWCOHS alumnus Christopher Pyke. 

Student standing by poster
OHHAI trainee, Mallory Thomas. 

NWCOHS reflections on Cascadia 

Twenty-three NWCOHS faculty, staff and trainees attended the conference with representation from the majority of our academic programs. 

“It was my first time attending Cascadia but I could quickly tell this is a conference deeply appreciated by experienced and new attendees both,” said Rita Bellanca, MS in Environmental Health Science student and Occupational Health at the Human-Animal Interface (OHHAI) trainee. “I especially enjoyed the Ignite/Lightning session and the poster session as both provided an excellent overview of current research efforts.” 

“The laidback environment and friendly atmosphere of Semiahmoo were so fitting for the conference,” said Sophia Dillery, Work and Health Graduate Certificate student. “I was able to make connections with other attendees and presenters that I wouldn't have otherwise. All presentations and poster topics were extremely engaging and informative, making me curious about research topics I had never seen or heard of before. I highly recommend others attend Cascadia in the future!”

NWCOHS faculty and trainee presentations

  • Taryn Amberson (podium presentation): Understanding traumatic stress in emergency nurses: A systematic review

  • Rita Bellanca (poster): Occupational health support for personnel interacting with animals

  • Diana Ceballos (poster): Using colorimetric wipes to characterize lead surface levels in construction workers’ homes and cars

  • Jane Dai (poster): Healthy food service guidelines in worksites and institutions: a scoping review and research agenda

  • Hilary McLeland-Wieser (poster): Evaluating bovine specific IgE in relation to cow exposure risk and personal protective equipment use among dairy workers

  • Jorge Rivera-Gonzalez (Ignite presentation): Microbiome comparison of dairy workers and community controls in the Yakima Valley

  • Chris Simpson (Ignite presentation): Measuring participant exposure to terpenes in a forest bathing clinical trial

  • Mallory Thomas (poster): A one health approach to land tenure and zoonotic disease exposure for pastoralists in Marsabit County, Kenya

Learn more about the history of this great event in a previous NWCOHS blog post: A legacy of cross-border impact.