From the Desk of the AEHA Treasurer

Part 2 of this series features AEHA’s new Treasurer – Chris Fish. Find out what Chris has in common with pigeon waste, Keith Cook, and chicken wings (not listed in order of importance). Stay tuned for more AEHA board member bios coming soon! 

cfishWhat first drew you to the field of environmental health? I was first drawn to the field with the idea that I’d be working on saving the planet. After a few classes, and while working as a student worker in the Environmental Health & Safety office at my University I became very interested in Institutional Environmental Health and Occupational Health.

What’s the best meal you’ve had recently? Chengdu Spicy Chicken Wings and Puerto Rican Mofongo at Nue in Seattle.

Tell us about a mentor you’ve had. I’ve been lucky to have some great mentors. My current boss, CAPT Keith Cook, is an encyclopedia of knowledge and provides a great example of the efficiency and patience required to be successful in our field.

What’s your favorite free-time activity? Hanging out with my family, watching movies.

What is the most unusual environmental health assignment you’ve had? Much of my work in Alaska is unusual, but AEHA’s membership has heard those type of stories. Instead I’ll share an unusual assignment from earlier in my career. Shortly after starting in a safety manager job at a corn ethanol and wheat products plant, I managed a large-scale pigeon waste remediation job. Dead pigeons and waste were literally stacked over 1’ deep in some spots. One of my major concerns, being in the Midwest, was that there was a risk of histoplasmosis, and so I designed an air sampling plan for Histoplasma Capsulatum DNA using Polymerase Chain Reaction technology. We designed the remediation to include using significant quantities of surfactant to keep particulates down, isolating ventilation, 2 large vac-trucks to vacuum up the waste, full-face respirators, Tyvek suits and a plant-wide shut down. My sampling included area sites both inside and outside the isolated remediation area. The sampling was verified airborne presence of H. capsulatum DNA inside the area demonstrating the surfactant may not have been adequate, but the outside samples found no airborne H. capsulatum DNA demonstrating the importance of isolation. The last steps included a bleach spray down of the remediation area, and pigeon exclusion methods to prevent future pigeon issues.

– Contributed by Chris Fish, AEHA Treasurer (2017-2019)

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