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Your Health – Your Environment Blog

A blog to increase public knowledge about environmental health by sharing our concerns and our work as well as information you can use in your daily life.


Woman’s Worry Prompts CDC/ATSDR Outreach on Testing Private Wells

Categories: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Health Investigations, Toxic Substances, Voices from the Field

In the “Voices from the Field” blog series, NCEH and ATSDR staff tell us about their work in communities, states, tribal territories, and even other countries. Read about how ATSDR Region 9 employees Ben Gerhardstein and Jamie Rayman discovered a critical need for accurate information in an Arizona community and created educational materials that everyone can use.

Thinkstock Image

What if you learned that your well water was contaminated with a dangerous chemical? Where would you go for valid scientific information about your family’s health risks? How could you find out what to do next?

At a 2013 public meeting in Arizona mining country, ATSDR region 9 staff members Ben Gerhardstein and Jamie Rayman met a mother who wept as she told about her family’s experience with contaminated well water. Her family and many others in rural Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, use private groundwater wells for their drinking water. She had recently learned that her family had been drinking water from a well with arsenic levels above what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers safe.

NCEH’s Tobacco Laboratory helps FDA carry out the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act

Categories: Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health

Thinkstock Image

Thinkstock Image

Tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chew, and pipe tobacco abound with harmful chemicals. The smoke from tobacco products contains more than 7,000 chemical components, and at least 250 are known to harm people’s health.

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products. When FDA makes decisions about how to regulate tobacco products, they consider how their actions will affect the entire population.

NCEH helps FDA with key data

To gain information on tobacco and health, FDA sought the help of the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) tobacco laboratory.

Save Energy and Resources This Holiday Season

Categories: National Center for Environmental Health

Holiday Season

November 15 is America Recycles Day. When you save energy and resources, you protect the environment and safeguard health both now and for the future.

At this time of year, many of us are already preparing for the winter holidays ahead. Although we want to enjoy the fun and spirit of the season, we may not want to overspend or waste resources in the process.

Early Winter Weather

Categories: Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Severe Weather

Snow covered street

While some sections of the United States have not yet seen their first snow, some areas have already felt winter’s icy blast. Winter weather presents challenges, but you can remain safe and healthy if you are prepared to meet them.

Indoor Safety

You may prefer to remain indoors in the winter as much as possible, but staying inside is no guarantee of safety. Take these steps to keep your home safe and warm even if you lose power.

CDC and Planners Bring Healthy Design to Communities

Categories: Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health

Woman walking in a healthy community.

Woman walking in a healthy community. Thinkstock photo.

Health professionals and community planners know that health starts where you live, learn, work, and play. They support the design and development of communities that encourage healthy behaviors, quality of life, and social connectedness. Learn how one planning firm is using National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) resources to ensure healthy community design.

HKS, a global architecture firm that focuses on healthcare design, with an office in Atlanta, is working on a proposed plan that would create a health district around the DeKalb Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia. The availability of health resources has made the area more attractive to seniors; the plan would give good infrastructure for creating a healthy and safe community environment.

The draft of the plan contains a copy of one of the CDC resources HKS used to develop the plan with community members:

Prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Categories: Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Toxic Substances


Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, November 2, 2014. As you prepare to set your clocks back one hour, remember to check or change the batteries in your carbon monoxide (CO) detector.

If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO alarm, now is a great time to buy one. At least 430 people die each year in the US from unintentional, non-fire related CO poisoning.

CO is found in fumes produced by furnaces, vehicles, portable generators, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, or burning charcoal or wood.

In California, Community Advocates Have a Seat at the Table

Categories: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Sharing Our Stories, Toxic Substances

CDPH site-assement What is a “roundtable”? It’s more than a circular surface to host meals or hold a meeting. For the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the term has come to mean a way to bring together environmental health experts and community advocates to meet, share their stories, and learn from each other. As with King Arthur’s legendary roundtable, the term implies an equal voice for all who participate.

In 2006, the CDPH Site Assessment Section (SAS) decided to host an annual roundtable meeting

Get the Lead Out: National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2014

Categories: Emergency and Environmental Health Services, National Center for Environmental Health, Toxic Substances

lead free kids

Joseph and Gwen Porter are so excited. For several years they have been looking for an older home they can afford. They’ve found a charming 1930s bungalow in a beautiful, tree-lined neighborhood with plenty of room for their three children. But when they read the seller’s disclosure required by law, they are surprised to learn that the home contains lead paint.

The Porters know that lead exposure is dangerous for children, but they also know that lead paint was banned years ago. They discover, however, that many older homes still contain lead paint that can contaminate house dust. The Porters also learn that lead exposure continues to be a public health concern.

Fourth Anniversary of the National ALS Registry

Categories: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

It’s been an incredible year for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) awareness! Not since Lou Gehrig made his famous “Luckiest Man on Earth” speech in 1939 has so much public attention been focused on ALS. Learn how the National ALS Registry is helping scientists learn more about this mysterious disease.


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

During the summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge swept the U.S. and beyond, bringing attention to the disease and raising money for research. Maybe you were one of thousands, including people with the disease, celebrities, politicians, and even Homer Simpson and Kermit the Frog, who dumped an icy cold bucket of water on your head for a good cause.

Voices from the Field Featuring Brian Hubbard

Categories: Emergency and Environmental Health Services, International Environmental Health, National Center for Environmental Health

Brian Hubbard. Photo courtesy of Brian Hubbard.

Brian Hubbard. Photo courtesy of Brian Hubbard.

My name is Brian Hubbard, and I am a health scientist in CDC’s Environmental Health Services Branch. Read on to learn how I worked directly with the Haitian government to improve water sanitation efforts.

Global access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and proper hygiene education can reduce illness and death from disease, leading to improved health, poverty reduction, and better social and economic development. But many countries face challenges providing these basic necessities to their residents. In turn, this leaves people at risk for diseases related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). CDC water activities (e.g., community water systems) and programs (e.g., Safe Water System) can empower communities to better understand how to prevent and treat the contamination that affects their drinking water.

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