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Research and Education Action and Advocacy Action Alerts Advocacy Issues Research and Education

The CANE/AIIE Executive Board of Directors know that research and education about environmental health is vital to everyone across the nation. We believe that nurses should be kept up to date about current environmental research and education events, documents, presentations and initiatives. To that end, we present current key research findings and educational announcements of interest to nurses.

PLEASE NOTE: CANE/AIIE members will be able to network and become more involved by accessing the evolving in-depth research and educational work being done in the Member's Only Community Portal. If you are not currently a member, just click on "Become a Member" in the top navigation bar.

If you are a CANE/AIIE member and are aware of environmental health research findings or education events or opportunities that you think should be featured on this page, email your suggestion by filling out our "Contact Us" form, accessible in the top navigation bar.

Nurse Educators' Perceptions of Ecoliteracy in Undergraduate Nursing Programs

by Jennifer L. Morin RN MN, CAE

Jennifer Morin


Knowledge about the relationship between human health and the environment is continuously expanding. Nurses are well positioned to address environmental and ecological health concerns related to human health. Yet, there is evidence that nurses' lack of environmental health training is a barrier to incorporating environmental health concepts into practice. The purpose of this descriptive qualitative research study was to explore and describe nurse educators' perceptions of ecoliteracy in undergraduate nursing programs within the province of Manitoba. Semi-structured telephone interviews were utilized to collect data from 13 nurse educators in three regions of Manitoba. Thematic content analysis identified seven themes. A key finding is that, while nurse educators feel that ecoliteracy is important for nurses at the undergraduate level, there are many challenges to achieving ecoliteracy within undergraduate nursing programs in Manitoba. Potential strategies for overcoming these barriers and recommendations for increasing ecoliteracy among nurse educators are identified.

  Access full Thesis at University of Manitoba


Jennifer presented a poster of this work at the 2019 EECOM conference in May 2019


Nurses are in a position to address environmental health concerns related to human health, and as a result, may be required to incorporate environmental health concepts into practice. Yet, there is evidence that nurses' lack of environmental health training is a barrier to incorporating environmental health concepts into practice. The purpose of this study was to explore nurse educators' perceptions of ecoliteracy in undergraduate nursing programs. To address the barriers that would support an ecoliterate nursing workforce, innovation in undergraduate nursing education as well as continuing education is required.


This poster presentation will explore: Nurses educators' understanding of the concept of ecoliteracy, and its relevance to nursing practice; nurse educators' perceptions about how ecoliteracy concepts are delivered and evaluated in undergraduate nursing programs; nurse educators' perceptions about barriers and facilitators to the inclusion of content which supports ecoliteracy in undergraduate nursing curricula. (Method) Descriptive qualitative research was used to explore the phenomenon of ecoliteracy within undergraduate nursing programs. Three levels of purposeful sampling were utilized to recruit 13 nurse educators in three regions of Manitoba. Data was collected using semi-structured, open-ended questions using telephone interviews. (Results) Data analysis was completed using thematic content analysis. Several themes were identified: importance of, and support for, ecoliteracy in undergraduate nursing programs (including the role of personal values); forms of content delivery supportive of ecoliteracy/ evaluation; future considerations for ecoliteracy content; barriers to inclusion of content supportive of ecoliteracy in the curriculum; and strategies to address these barriers. A key finding is that, while nurse educators feel that ecoliteracy is important for nurses at the undergraduate level, there are many challenges to achieving ecoliteracy within undergraduate nursing programs in Manitoba. A key finding is that, while nurse educators feel that ecoliteracy is important for nurses at the undergraduate level, there are many barriers to achieving an ecoliterate workforce. Recommendations for future practice include policy and practice change.

  Link to 2019 EECOM conference

An Education Program for Family Nurses about Environmental Health

by Jennifer L. Morin RN MN, CAE and Sandra Alguire RN MN

Incorporating Aboriginal Wisdom to Promote Ecoliteracy

Presented at 14th International Family Nursing Conference


The purpose of this project is to provide environment health (EH) education to family nurses to improve their knowledge pertaining to families, particularly those whose health is at risk, or adversely affected by their environments. Nurses ought to consider how social justice aligns with the families' intrinsic right to the even distribution of resources and how this aligns with physical surroundings and the environment in which they live, as the physical environment is a social determinant of health (SDH).

Although the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) recognizes the important relationship between the environment and human health, and recommends it be included in nursing education, nurses remain unprepared to address EH issues. Family Systems Theory will guide the project to ensure involvement of the whole family in education about EH, and The Social Ecological Model (SEM) will be utilized in the development of health promotion interventions at various levels as, individual, interpersonal, the community, organizational and environment to develop family nursing interventions that address EH. International and national policies that will inform the program development include; The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion which identifies requirements for health (i.e. peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable eco-system, sustainable resources, social justice and equity); Healthy People 2020 which identifies environmental objectives as water quality, toxins, waste, healthy homes, and healthy communities; and The Canadian Patient Safety Institute, that supports EH through the inclusion of learning outcomes developed for nursing curricula.

This information will guide the development of the education program to inform family nurses and aid in the translation of knowledge to families about environmental health. Program evaluation will include administration of a questionnaire to nurses' pre and post participation. This education program aims to increase family nurses' ecoliteracy, simultaneously promoting family resilience, and build capacity within family members to identify EH risks.

  Link to 14th International Family Nursing Conference

Beyond the Slogans: Understanding the ecological consciousness of nurses
to advance ecohealth knowledge and practice

by Fiona Hanley, RN, BScN, MSc and Sonya L. Jakubec, RN, MN PhD

Beyond Slogans

Presented at Nursing Explorations 2018, Montreal, PQ on November 30, 2018.

Introduction: We are observing unprecedented environmental changes across the globe resulting in ecosystem destruction, biodiversity loss, widespread chemical contamination, and multiple human health effects. Despite this context of crisis, and advances in nursing knowledge and education, the conception of environment within the discipline and integration of knowledge into nursing practice has, for the most part, remained restricted. The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) chose Environmental Health as their Centenary theme in 2008, affirming that every nurse should be applying environmental health principles in their practice, and creating a series of webcasts and on-line tools for nurses to use in practice. A decade has passed, and environmental health remains marginalised in nursing education and practice, with nurses struggling to get beyond the slogans to arrive at practical applications.

Methods:Methods: An online, qualitative survey was distributed to Canadian nurses and nursing students in May 2018 to explore their knowledge and views on environmental health and nursing and the integration of this knowledge into their practice. Respondents received the survey though membership lists of CNHE, survey monkey, and the CNA Associate group newsletter, as well as through colleagues. Participants were asked about factors that influenced initial consciousness of ecohealth, how this eco-consciousness affected them as nurses, and how they integrated this into their practice.

Results: The 40 respondents included 32 nurses in education and practice, in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, and 8 student nurses from Quebec. Six main themes were highlighted: Awakening consciousness, finding opportunities, limitations, conclusions, and moving forward. In particular, students expressed a need for early integration of environmental health teaching into their curriculum.

Conclusion: Results of the survey illustrate the ongoing knowledge-practice gap and highlight the frustration and dismay of nurses whose efforts remain marginalized. Conclusions from this research provide insights on the motivations and opportunities for nurses to undertake an expanded role in adopting environmental health as central to the discipline and practice of Nursing. As curricular approaches are expanded, further inquiry is proposed regarding the role of both early experiences and nursing education to transform the response to the ecological crises of our times.

Keywords: Environment, Health, Ecological Consciousness, Pedagogy, Curriculum

  Link to Presentation Poster

Empowering Canadian Nursing's Voice in Environmental Health

by June Kaminski, RN, MSN, PhD(c) and Fiona Hanley, RN, BScN, MSc

Solution Lab presented at Canadian Nurses Association Biennium, Saint Johns, NB on June 21, 2016.

Currently, many ecological issues demand societal attention, including climate change, food safety, and exposure to toxic contaminants and pollutants. Critical issues that influence the health of our natural environment impact all of the social determinants of health in many ways.

  Develop awareness of the interconnectedness of environmental and human health

  Analyze how environmental health is a foundation for primary health care

The Canadian Nurses for Health and the Environment (CNHE) is designing environmental competencies and curriculum to share with nurses and educators. We will introduce this work to encourage engagement and explore ways that nursing can collaborate with others to support environmental health.

This discussion will include an overview of the innovative technological tools being developed by CNHE for teaching environmental health and developing ecoliteracy in nursing education and practice. Authors encouraged nurses to access these educational resources to inform primary health care practice through environmental health knowledge and competencies.

The Canadian Nurses for Health and the Environment - Infirmieres et Infirmiers pour la Sante et l'Environnement (CNHE/IISE) is currently preparing curriculum resources and learning activities that can be used by schools of nursing to integrate environmental and ecoliteracy content and theory into nursing curriculum. Nurses can also use these resources to develop their personal ecoliteracy. As part of this process, we are currently engaged in the following preparatory work

  An environmental scan of resources and activities currently offered by nursing schools;

  A review of the literature and available resources;

  A survey to gather input from nurses and nursing faculty about topics to focus on;

  Learning activities on a variety of ecoliteracy and environmental topics.

Incorporating Aboriginal Wisdom to Promote Ecoliteracy

by June Kaminski, RN, MSN, PhD(c)

Incorporating Aboriginal Wisdom to Promote Ecoliteracy

Presented March 24, 2016 at Centre Stage Theatre, Surrey City Hall


Ecological sustainability is a goal of many Canadian organizations and professionals, including nurses. The most logical source of sustainability wisdom that promotes ecological wholeness are traditional Aboriginal teachings and philosophies. Nursing educational programs are beginning to incorporate Aboriginal wisdom into curriculum to promote holistic nursing care of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people and to help evolve ecoliteracy. Nursing faculty follow a mandate to teach students to be active agents of advocacy for global issues including environmental health and ecology.

This Pechakucha by June Kaminski addresss how students create content to help nurses explore ecological issues and engage in the process of finding solutions to critical issues, and how Aboriginal wisdom supports this. It also explore show the Canadian Nurses for Health of the Environment encourages all Canadian nurses to become involved in promoting ecological sustainability on a national level.

  Link to 2016 Pechakucha Presentation

Preparing Health Care Facilities in Canada for Climate Change

from The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care

Canadian Green Health Care Digest The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, with research and technical support from Health Canada, is pleased to announce the release of the Health Care Facility Climate Change Resiliency Toolkit. The toolkit was co-developed for use by health care facilities to assess their resiliency to the impacts of climate change.

Health care facilities in Canada are vulnerable to climate change. Climate-related hazards are expected to create risks that can disrupt health care facility services and delivery. Extreme weather events (e.g. storms, floods, wildfires, extreme temperature events) can create emergencies by damaging infrastructure, compromising access to critical resources (e.g. food and water) and safety of patients, visitors and staff. Climate change increases risks of some infectious diseases (vector-, water- and food-borne, new and emerging) and worsens air quality. Climate-related hazards can have significant implications for demand on health care facility services.


The Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care

Keeping Up with Green initiatives in Health Care

Canadian Green Health Care Digest The Coalition provides diverse research and educational resources to support the greening of health care in Canada. Topics include Greening Hospitals, Doing Less Harm, Climate Change Content and Green Initiatives in Canadian Schools of Nursing, Waste Reduction & Recycling, Toxic Products in the Home, Fragrance and health, and more.


Kids exposed to mercury or lead more likely to have ADHD symptoms, Canadian study finds

From Environmental News

Kids and Mercury Children exposed to higher levels of mercury or lead are three to five times more likely to be identified by teachers as having problems associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to a scientific study published today. The study, of Inuit children living in Arctic Canada, is the first to find a high rate of attention-deficit symptoms in children highly exposed to mercury in the womb. In addition, the Inuit children more often had hyperactivity symptoms if they were exposed to the same low levels of lead commonly found in young U.S. children. Laval University scientist Gina Muckle said the findings are important because they show for the first time that the effects of mercury in children are not just subtle, but are actually noticeable to teachers. They may be clinically significant and may interfere with learning and performance in the classroom, the study says. For lead, the school teachers reported much more frequent ADHD symptoms at levels far below the CDC's newly developed health guideline. Dr. Bruce Lanphear, of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, said evidence is mounting that toxic compounds are shifting children's behavior...There seem to be a whole host of different toxicants that are associated with ADHD." One of the most intriguing findings was that mercury was linked to attention deficits while lead was associated with hyperactivity. The difference may be the timing of the exposures: in the womb for mercury and during childhood for lead. The findings "suggest the brain may be sensitive to different environmental chemicals at different times in development," said Harvard epidemiologist Joe Braun.


U of A study tests the air quality in Edmonton homes

By Carmen Leibel

Air Quality August 12, 2010 (Edmonton) Researchers at the University of Alberta are trying to help clear the air about the levels of air pollutants in people's homes. This is pretty important because almost two thirds of our lifetime is spent inside our home, said Warren Kindzierski, associate professor from the School of Public Health.

The U of A School of Public Health has been asked by Health Canada to help with a Residential Indoor Air Quality Study. Very simply, a study like this gives us answers about what are causes of poor air quality and provides us insights about what we can do to maintain good indoor air quality, said Kindzierski.


Toxins in the Athabasca River

Dr. David Schindler

Athabaska River, AB (Edmonton) University of Alberta ecologist David Schindler and several colleagues have completed new research, concluding that the Alberta oilsands industry is releasing more pollutants into the Athabasca River, its tributaries and its watershed than previously estimated.

“This study counters industry and government claims that the pollutants are from natural seepage of bitumen" said Schindler.

Schindler and the research team analyzed 13 elements in river water and snow pack along the Athabasca and its delta. The pollutants found include mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium. The researchers say the releases are a clear violation of the federal fisheries act and provincial guidelines for protection of aquatic life.

Schindler says some of the metals interact with organic pollutants, making them more toxic. The combined impact of the toxins on the river is not fully understood.


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