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Tiffany Gee

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I am currently working in cross connections and water pollution control under the programmatic area of environmental health. One part of my job is to be trained as a cross connections inspector, which I have learned, is a very unique position. To become trained as a cross connections inspector, you have to accomplish three main tasks. First, I spend 2 days on average going out with cross connections inspectors to learn how to conduct water surveys.  Along with other inspectors, we carpool to different sites needing water surveys, including the Staples Center, Coca Cola Factory, Painted Turtle Camp, Hostess Bakery/Factory, and the Bel Air Hotel!  Second, I usually spend Wednesdays in the “Cross Connections Lab” where I learn how to test backflow prevention devices. Lastly, I have at least one day per week dedicated to in-office research, during which I read up on California and county plumbing code and water quality regulations.  Knowing these standards is critical for an inspector to properly do this job.

My second major responsibility is a project where I am researching water qualities of alternate water use systems.  Alternate water use refers to systems that harvest rain water, storm water, or urban runoff.  This is becoming more and more popular in the southern California regions. However, there are few, if any, regulations on these systems.  What concerns my department is the possibility of human exposure to aerosolized water that has not been tested for contaminants. Over the next 10 months, I will collect samples from these systems, conduct field tests on the water, and arrange for samples to be tested at the public health labs. In the coming weeks, I will start taking samples at these sites and conducting my own field tests for pH, turbidity, total chlorine, and total alkalinity.  At the end of this project, we hope to be able to support the safe, long-term use of alternate water systems and continue to promote human health and well-being.

This has been an incredibly exciting and eye-opening experience for me. The fact that every day is slightly different definitely keeps me on my toes and has really broadened my public health knowledge, which is exactly what I was looking for in PHAP!

I was also excited at the prospect of relocation and gaining experience in a new branch of public health.  And, of course, it is a program created by the CDC, which is like the “public health Mecca” to a public health student.

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