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February 08
Radiation is everywhere. The question is: How much?

​Do you ever wonder how much radiation you're being exposed to? The following article published by the US Department of Energy describes things in our everyday lives that are radioactive and the potential harm or benefit that comes from them. 

http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/this-radioactive-life


(click to enlarge)

February 08
Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Risk Management Safety and Loss Prevention Outlook:  Issue 5 | Volume 6 | November-December 2015

The Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Risk Management produces a periodic newsletter titled Safety and Loss Prevention Outlook.  In this issue, the following topics are presented:

  • Loss Prevention Best Practices - Veterans' Affairs
  • Correct Ergonomic Furniture Usage
  • Staying Safe During Office Construction
  • Electrical Safety Poster
  • Health and Wellness - Self Reflection
  • Extreme Weather and El Niño

Click here to open the newsletter:  Safety and Loss Prevention Outlook

January 28
Zika Virus

Zika virus is another mosquito-borne virus transmitted by the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue and chikungunya viruses, which have caused massive outbreaks of those diseases throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America. There have been epidemics of both diseases in Florida. Currently Zika virus is the cause of large outbreaks in Brazil and elsewhere in South and Central American where millions have been infected similar to what occurred with dengue and chikungunya. 

Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

CDC has developed interim guidelines for health care providers in the United States who are caring for infants born to mothers who traveled to or resided in an area with Zika virus transmission during pregnancy. These guidelines include recommendations for the testing and management of these infants. Guidance is subject to change as more information becomes available; the latest information, including answers to commonly asked questions, can be found online (http://www.cdc.gov/zika).



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article56527433.html#storylink=cpy



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article56527433.html#storylink=cpyZika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommonCDC has developed interim guidelines for health care providers in the United States who are caring for infants born to mothers who traveled to or resided in an area with Zika virus transmission during pregnancy. These guidelines include recommendations for the testing and management of these infants. Guidance is subject to change as more information becomes available; the latest information, including answers to commonly asked questions, can be found online (http://www.cdc.gov/zika)
January 27
Preventing the Next Ebola Epidemic

​To avoid another disaster, we need to think both inside and outside the box.

Last week marked the first time since the beginning of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa when all three of the worst-hit countries had gone 42 days without a single new case. If there is such a thing as an official end to this nightmare, we had hoped that this was it. Yet the next day, another case was reported in Sierra Leone.  So with more than 11,000 people dead, and a further 28,500 infected with continued spread, the question now is, are we today in a better position than two years ago to prevent such a tragedy from happening again?  Read more here:  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/preventing-the-next-ebola-epidemic/

January 26
Listeria linked to packaged salad

​12 people were hospitalized and one person died due to Listeria linked to packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio. Check your fridge for these salads sold under various brand names. To read more please read below:

http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/bagged-salads-01-16/advice-consumers.html


January 26
The Great Methane Leak of Southern California

Authorities estimate that over 87,000 metric tons of methane have leaked into the atmosphere from a failed natural gas well in Southern California.  Southern California Gas Company expects to have the methane leak stopped by late February but in the meantime residents near the facility have been relocated. The failed well has been emitting this fast acting greenhouse gas for three months; methane molecules are 100 times more heat trapping than carbon dioxide.

This incident has highlighted concerns amongst industry experts and climate scientists, since aging natural gas infrastructure currently accounts for 29% of all methane emissions. This will only continue without system-wide improvements.
Remember, methane is an odorless, colorless gas in its natural state.  For public safety, mercaptan is added to alert of a leak in distribution lines.   
January 26
The Flint Michigan Water Crisis Explained

News is out about the lead contamination in the municipal drinking water of Flint, Michigan.  Many are wondering how could this occur. In an effort to save money, Flint officials decided to stop using Lake Huron water brought from the Detroit Michigan water system and use the Flint River as the primary source of water in 2014.  The problem began because the Flint River is more corrosive than Lake Huron water from the Detroit system.  The Flint River water left untreated has damaged aging city pipes causing lead to leach into the water supply.

The untreated corrosive water has created a health crisis for the community.  The failure of proper treatment, followed by a failure of adequate testing and follow through once the evidence became clear that a problem existed, has escalated this to a health crisis with potentially long lasting effects.

Lead is a neurotoxin and is measured in parts per billion (ppb), the EPA has set action levels of lead in drinking water at 15 ppb which requires action to reduce the concentration.  Lead levels in Flint water supplies at the taps of homes collected by residents and analyzed through Virginia Tech found lead levels far exceeding the EPA action level. For more information: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/15/this-is-how-toxic-flints-water-really-is/ and http://flintwaterstudy.org/2015/12/complete-dataset-lead-results-in-tap-water-for-271-flint-samples/

FYI, in case you are interest in your water quality check out:

City of Tallahassee 2015 Water Quality Report: https://www.talgov.com/Uploads/Public/Documents/you/learn/library/documents/wqr.pdf​

January 22
Litvinenko Inquiry Report of 2006 Po-210 Poisoning is Available

Nearly a decade ago, news of the suspected assassination of former Russian intelligence agent and current British citizen/intelligence agent, Alexander Litvinenko, via poisoning with polonium-210 surprised the world. The British Government recently concluded an official public inquiry into this event. A summary of this report offered by several reputable news services can be found through simple internet searches. If you are interested in reading the report in more detail, the complete report can be found at https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/

January 22
Create a Safe Working Environment in Your Biological Safety Cabinet

Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs) are designed to provide personnel, environmental, and product protection when appropriate practices and procedures are followed.  BSCs are typically used in research laboratories and animal facility procedure and housing areas.  To ensure that you are working in a safe work environment in your BSC, please review the Create a Safe Working Environment in Your Biological Safety Cabinet poster.

January 22
Chikungunya: A mosquito-borne disease

Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, was first reported in Florida back on July 17th, 2015. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952. The name “chikungunya” derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted”, and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain that is often debilitating and can vary in duration. There is no cure for chikungunya. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms. In addition to joint pain, other symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this newly reported case in Florida represents the first time that mosquitoes in the continental United States are thought to have spread the virus to a non-traveler. Although the CDC does not expect widespread cases of chikungunya in the United States, American travelers infected overseas may continue to bring the virus with them on their return. A total of 679 chikungunya virus disease cases with illness onset in 2015 have been reported to ArboNET from 44 U.S. states. ArboNET is a national arboviral surveillance system managed by CDC and state health departments. All reported cases occurred in travelers returning from affected areas. No locally-transmitted cases have been reported from U.S. states.

As noted by the WHO, the virus is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected female mosquitoes. Most commonly, the mosquitoes involved are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, two species which can also transmit other mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue. According to the CDC, both species are found in the southeastern United States and limited parts of the Southwest; Aedes albopictus is also found further north up the East Coast, through the Mid-Atlantic States, and in the lower Midwest. These mosquitoes bite throughout daylight hours, though there may be peaks of activity in the early morning and late afternoon. After the bite of an infected mosquito, onset of illness occurs usually between 4 and 8 days but can range from 2 to 12 days.

The CDC recommends the best way to protect yourself and your family from chikungunya is to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, using air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside, and reducing mosquito breeding grounds such as standing water. Remembering the four Ds is the best way to provide protection: (1) Drain standing water, (2) Use Deet repellant when outside, (3) Dress in a way to protect from bites by wearing long pants and sleeves, (4) Use extra caution at Dawn and Dusk.

Currently the CDC is working with the Florida Department of Health to assess whether there are locally acquired cases. They are also providing guidance on ways to prevent further spread of the virus by controlling mosquitoes and by educating people about personal and household protection measures to avoid mosquito bites. Clink on the hyperlinks to learn more about Chikungunya in the United States.

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