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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.

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Selected Category: Sharing Our Stories

NCEH Observes “World Environment Day”

Categories: Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, International Environmental Health, National Center for Environmental Health, Sharing Our Stories

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5 to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth. It is run by the United Nations Environment Programme. Read the story below about the effects climate change on Pacific Islanders:

Photojournalism Focuses on Climate Change in Pacific Islands

Climate change is any significant variation in temperature, precipitation, wind, or other type of weather that lasts for decades or longer.

Pristine waters, lush vegetation, picturesque landscapes, remote location….. This sounds like the stuff of travel guides—words that conjure up images of a vacationer’s paradise. But these alluring descriptors aren’t about “Fantasy Island.” Think Pacific Islands—the focus of a unique NCEH photojournalism project studying the effects of climate change. The project focused on the Republic of Palau and aimed to raise global awareness of the public health effects of climate change on all Pacific Islanders.

Preventing Exposure to Metals in Arizona Mining Country

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

Humboldt Smelter

The Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Site in Dewey-Humboldt, AZ Credit: Leah Butler (EPA) via Wikimedia Commons

You may find ATSDR regional representatives just about anywhere in the United States—in Alaska or Puerto Rico, in the mountains of Montana, or even in the Arizona high desert. That’s where Region 9 representatives Ben Gerhardstein and Jamie Rayman have been working with residents of Dewey-Humboldt, a small town created out of two former mining communities. The nearby Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter once played significant roles in the historical development of the Big Bug Mining District, one of many large mining operations in early Arizona history.

Tornado Safety Tips

Categories: Emergency Preparedness, Emergency and Environmental Health Services, Severe Weather, Sharing Our Stories, Tornado

Alabama tornado damage, April 2011

Alabama tornado damage, April 2011

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) there is no guaranteed safety during a tornado. Indeed, we must take seriously even the possibility of a tornado. Although the most violent tornadoes can level and blow away almost any house and those within it, extremely violent EF5 tornadoes are very rare. Most tornadoes are much weaker. You can survive a tornado if you follow safety precautions. Read more about ways to keep yourself and your family safe during a tornado.

Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response (EHTER) is a course developed by the Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services to prepare state and local health departments for disaster response. Read about EHTER and how public health responders used their training to respond to tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri.

Aflatoxin in Kenya: Finding Our Way Through the Maize

Categories: Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, Health Investigations, National Center for Environmental Health, Sharing Our Stories


In April 2004, illness and death plagued rural Kenya. No one knew what the source could be. At the core of this mystery, however, was an outbreak— jaundice with a high rate of fatality in the districts of Makueni and Kitui, Eastern Province. Officials were at a loss for answers. Stumped, they were catapulted into a mission to discover the cause of the illness.

The Kenya Ministry of Health (MOH) invited several organizations and agencies to participate in the outbreak investigation including CDC Kenya and CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)
(Health Studies Branch HSB)

Folic Acid

Categories: Biomonitoring, Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Sharing Our Stories

January 6-12, 2013 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. The following blog post explains the importance of folic acid in the diet of a pregnant woman and her unborn child and the significance of folic acid research and biomonitoring by NCEH’s Environmental Health Laboratory.

A couple of decades ago, about 4,000 babies were born each year with neural tube defects, which are major birth defects of a baby’s brain or spine that can cause severe disability or death. These defects occur during early pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant. For example, spina bifida is one type of neural tube defect and may cause physical and mental disabilities that range from mild to severe. CDC has played a major role in changes that dramatically decreased the number of babies born with neural tube defects.

Did you Know…

In 1992, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that all women of childbearing age capable of becoming pregnant consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily to prevent neural tube defects. Research has shown that a woman’s intake of folic acid prior to conception and throughout the first few weeks of pregnancy can prevent many neural tube defects.

Environmental Health Lab Detects Low Folate Levels

Watch a video to hear individuals with spina bifida and their parents talk about living with neural tube defects.

Watch a video to hear individuals with spina bifida and their parents talk about living with neural tube defects.

Folate is a type of B vitamin known to be especially important when cells rapidly divide and grow during pregnancy and infancy. Folate occurs naturally in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dried beans and peas. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate used in supplements and added to fortify foods.

In the mid 1990’s, NCEH’s Environmental Health Laboratory used blood samples collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to measure folate levels in the U.S. population. CDC found that folate levels were particularly low in women of childbearing age. CDC scientists were concerned because they knew that low folate levels were linked to neural tube defects.

International Disease Detectives Discover Cause of Disease in Ethiopia

Categories: Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, Health Investigations, National Center for Environmental Health, Sharing Our Stories

Danielle Buttke processes samples.

Danielle Buttke processes samples.

Mystery Illness in Ethiopia

A strange new illness was spreading throughout Tigray, the northern region of Ethiopia. People living in remote homes and villages developed swollen, painful abdomens and then lost weight. Some of them had trouble breathing as the fluid in their abdomens crowded their lungs.

Three or four family members in one household might become ill, while others living in the same household did not. In some families, everyone died from the disease. Even children as young as 5 years old became too weak to move, their abdomens swollen with up to four liters of fluid. People were sick, even dying, from an illness that demonstrated symptoms commonly seen in liver disease. But what was causing it?

ATSDR saves Super Bowl party in an Ohio community

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

High Densitity Polyethylene Cap to eliminate ambient reseases of gases

High Densitity Polyethylene Cap to eliminate ambient reseases of gases

“The stench was so bad that when I would bake a turkey in my kitchen, the only thing you could smell was the dump,” said Roger Pound. Now, thanks to an Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) intervention, Mr. Pound can once again smell the mouth-watering aromas coming from his kitchen.

Mr. Pound lives a few yards away from the “dump,” the 400-acre A&L Salvage Landfill in Lisbon, Ohio, which began operations in 2001. A&L had not been operating long before neighbors expressed concerns typical of landfill facilities−dust, noise, and appearance. More serious complaints included improper handling of solid waste and a strong rotten egg smell usually associated with hydrogen sulfide.

EHTER Preparation Comes in Handy in Alabama Tornado Response

Categories: Emergency Preparedness, Emergency and Environmental Health Services, National Center for Environmental Health, Severe Weather, Sharing Our Stories

An Aarons Rental Store on McFarland Blvd in Tuscaloosa - 'Ground Zero'

An Aarons Rental Store on McFarland Blvd in Tuscaloosa -

On April 27, 2011, Director Tim Hatch began his day at the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) thinking, “My schedule is finally clear.” It wasn’t long before he realized he should “never, ever say that.”

On that day, disaster struck. Tornadoes ripped through the state, causing death and destruction in Tuscaloosa, Cullman, and Birmingham as well as some rural communities in northwest Alabama. From 1:00 to 11:00 PM, Hatch was in the ADPH Emergency Operations Center in Montgomery, tracking the tornadoes and responding to the disaster. Hatch and staff members in health departments across the state were prepared to respond to the problems caused by the tornadoes in part because of the Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response (EHTER) course developed by CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health.

 
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