NEHA October 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

40 Volume 85 • Number 3 A D VANC EME N T O F T H E PRACTICE  T H E P R A C T I T I O N E R ’ S T O O L K I T Introduction Welcome to tricks of the trade. This column will look at the “what, why, and how” behind exercising our professional knowledge, skills, and attributes in the field. The information we will present is based on good science and uses a practical, commonsense approach. We are all quite adept at interpreting codes, rules, regulations, and policies but unfortunately, applying this skill did not come with an owner’s manual. Like most, we initially learned from a mentor, who learned from a mentor, and so on. It only becomes apparent that there might be a better way of doing things after we have been in practice for several years, or when we observe a colleague and wonder if there is something that can improve what we are doing. At best, we hone our skills. At worst, we become static and subsequently can be challenged when our work does not hold up to scientific or legal scrutiny. This column is an extension of something we started approximately 30 years ago in the Journal of Environmental Health, albeit with a new perspective. We initially penned a column on field instrumentation and tools. Our approach was similar to that of Consumer Reports in reviewing household appliances, tires, and auto insurance. We put the tools into actual practice and gave an honest and critical accounting of our findings. We learned much writing that column. We also learned new insights into our applied environmental health science. In particular, we learned how to sample, measure, and interpret findings to eliminate bias, ensure repeatability, and be responsive to developing scientific and technological trends, current public health needs, and the needs of our clients. We learned to use our field instruments and inspection, audit, or evaluation techniques to assess risk and help tailor corrective measures in a coste‚ective and cost-eƒcient manner. We found that this approach encourages our clients to think of new ways to protect the public. We learned to interpret data that conform with the sampling method and inherent error and limitations of the field instruments, as well as to structure our reports so that they cannot be easily assailed. And finally, we learned teaching and sales techniques along with professional deportment that results in improved communication and cooperation for the good of public health. The idea for this column came from an experience working as a defendant’s expert in a correctional conditions case. During field work, it became obvious—much to our own embarrassment because we were guilty of doing much of the same thing—that the sampling and measuring techniques of the plainti‚’s expert were not defensible. Routine monitoring such as evaluating the temperature of food, as well as evaluating lighting, ventilation, and general sanitation practices, were without a good grounding in our applied science and industry accepted practices. Likewise, we are often called on to comment and defend (or critique) contentious sampling strategies, concise report preparation, and professional deportment in the performance of our duties. We are looking forward to sharing these experiences and the insights that go with them. The authors of this column collectively have over 300 years of experience as environmental health professionals. We are all credentialed and worked as regulatory practitioners, academicians, industry consultants, and forensic technologists. Our careers were fraught with mistakes and successes, both large and small. We have embraced and learned from our misEd i tor ’s Not e : The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) strives to provide relevant and useful information for environmental health practitioners. In a recent membership survey, we heard your request for information in the Journal that is more applicable to your daily work. We listened and are pleased to feature this column from a cadre of environmental health luminaries with over 300 years of experience in the environmental health field. This group will share their tricks of the trade to help you create a tool kit of resources for your daily work. The conclusions of this column are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the o€cial position of NEHA, nor does it imply endorsement of any products or services mentioned. An Introduction and Checking Field Thermometer Accuracy James J. Balsamo, Jr., MS, MPH, MHA, RS, CP-FS, CSP, CHMM, DEAAS Nancy Pees Coleman, MPH, PhD, RPS, RPES, DAAS Gary P. Noonan, CAPT (Retired), MPA, RS/REHS, DEAAS Robert W. Powitz, MPH, PhD, RS, CP-FS, DABFET, DLAAS Vincent J. Radke, MPH, RS, CP-FS, CPH, DLAAS Charles D. Treser, MPH, DEAAS