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Undergraduate Student Presents at National Environmental Health Association Conference

Megan Smith presenting at National Environmental Health Association conference.

On June 29, Megan Smith, a Boise State University senior majoring in Environmental and Occupational Health gave a thirty-minute podium presentation entitled, “Carbon Monoxide Exposures Associated with the Operation of Recreational Watercraft” at the National Environmental Health Association’s 76th Annual Education Conference in San Diego, Calif.

Smith presented findings from a larger research effort supervised by Dale Stephenson, chair of the Department of Community and Environmental Health and director of both the Environmental and Occupational Health program and the Center for Excellence for Environmental Health and Safety. Smith and Stephenson’s work was funded by a grant from the College of Health Sciences Office of External Funding.

Smith’s presented findings related to an important public health concern – preventing poisoning and fatalities from carbon monoxide (CO) emitted from recreational water-craft such as houseboats, ski and fishing boats, and jet skis. Because such watercraft often operate in an outdoor setting with seemingly adequate ambient ventilation, many people are unaware of the potential for CO concentrations to reach hazardous levels. Over the last two decades, however, there have been approximately 660 poisonings and 150 deaths in the U.S. related to these types of CO exposures.

The research Smith presented shows that CO concentrations encroached and exceeded exposure thresholds established by the World Health Organization and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Such findings suggest a need for greater awareness of these hazards among environmental health practitioners and the need for enhanced administrative and engineering controls aimed at reducing human exposures to this hazardous combustion by-product.

For more information on this ongoing research effort, please contact Dr. Dale Stephenson (; (208) 426-3795).