Thursday, August 30, 2012

Public Health Job postings

The University of Minnesota School of Public Health has US job postings for positions focusing on Minnesota with additional positions through out the US.  The positions include volunteer as well as paid positions. The over one hundred position list is sortable by state.

The U of Minnesota Department of Environmental Health and Safety is hiring a Safety Training coordinator.  Application and job description information is available here.

Job postings at the Minnesota Department of Health are listed here.

Can You Imagine? from Harvard School of Public Health on Vimeo.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Legionaire's outbreak and information

Two death's from Legionaire's disease are reportedly linked to a downtown Marriott Hotel in Chicago, Illinois.  Chicago Tribune reporter, Mitch Smith confirmed that the hotel has drained the pool, whirlpool and fountain.

Several non fatal legionella cases in Wisconsin were caused by exposure to a decorative fountain that was heated by lamps and a nearby fireplace.

Recommendations for decorative fountain maintenance as commissioned by the South Dakota department of health are listed on this pdf.  Below water lighting, plastic pipes and poor treatment of water contribute to problems with the decorative fountains.  Keeping the temperature below 65 degrees and maintaining at least 0.5 ppm of chlorine will reduce problems with legionella. 

The IAQ network  video on Legionaire's Disease

The IAQA network Cooling towers and Legionella.
Pontiac fevor is also caused by Legionella bacteria by IAQA network

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Methane from Windpower

Brita Bell writes in Ecomagination about a research project designed to take atmospheric carbon dioxide and convert it into methane using electricity and a methanogen called Methanobacterium palustre.  The ideal power source would be night time excessive electrical power produced by wind energy.

In 2012, Stanford Scientists describe an unsuccessful attempt to use Methanothermobacter marburgensis, to convert waste carbon dioxide from power plants or anaerobic digestion of biowaste to methane.  They are looking at an organism that is less sensitive to methyl viologen a highly toxic compound that forms part of the pesticide paraquat and is produced when electricity is applied to stimulate the production of methane.

Some of these methanogens grow in deep sea vents in the ocean capturing hydrogen and carbon dioxide to produce methane.  They may be the type of alien life forms found on the planet mars according to a Huffington Post article.


BYD Life size Remote Control Car from China

On August 21, 2012 Bertel Schmitt reports in The truth about Cars that BYD China has modified a Toyota Corolla car and added a remote control to allow operation of the vehicle in a 10 meter space.  The intended purpose is to make parking easier or to maneuver the car closer when it is raining. 


Antartic ice core temperature modeling and carbon dioxide levels

Lewis Page offers a summary of an article in Science on temperature variations in antartic ice cores over the past 14,000 years.  In summary the region has been much colder and much warmer than the present over that stretch of time.   At least in that region of the earth the recent warming does not appear to be without precedent.

This graph also shows temperature variation in the antartic core for the past 400,000 years.  It also shows temperature variations on a cyclic basis.  Note that the recent carbon dioxide levels are higher than the typical peak of 280 ppm.

Globally carbon dioxide levels have risen considerably in the past 50 years with levels at  340 in the in the 1980's to levels around 385 in 2010.    These carbon dioxide levels are similar to what I have measured in Minnesota over the past 24 years. 

Health care associated infection videos from IAQ network

The IAQ network has recently produced four videos on health care associated infections.  A list of most of them can be found here.

 Health Care Infections part 1

Health Care Infections part 2
Clostridium difficile

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ocean is possible source for Uranium

Researchers at the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory have significantly increased the extraction efficiency of Uranium from the ocean.  The cost is several times that of land based mining.  Because the actual material is a fraction of the cost to operate a nuclear reactor, the increased cost for recovering the material won't make a significant impact in the cost of electricity writes Lewis Page in The Register.

The research from the US Dept. of Energy Pacific National Laboratories is described here.  The lab is testing an absorbent that extracts trace elements of Uranium from Seawater. The results were reported during the American Chemical Society meeting Aug 19-23 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Japan has been considering engineered seaweed or absorbent material to extract uranium.  Lithium is another Ocean based metal that may be extracted.  It is estimated that it is a 14,000 trillion dollar resource. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Outdoor mold and pollen counts

On August 7, 2012, Chicago area was under alert for high airborne mold counts in excess of 125,000 spores per cubic meter.  NBC Chicago referred to Dr. Joseph Leija who reports the Midwest's Gottliebe Allergy Count.  The high counts were thought to be due to high humidity and a recent rain.  Advisories are issued when the counts are 1/3rd this level.  This is the highest count in over 15 years.
Dr. Joseph Leija pictured in March of 2012
Counts are in spores per cubic meter
The National Allergy Bureau (NAB) chart is for an outdoor air mix only and does not apply to indoor air samples where the mix of spores may be different.   The charts are not health based but based on normal levels over the US.  Local areas may have different norms for spore counts.

Below is some initial help on sorting out if you have the cold an allergy or the flu.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Water leak check for home owners

State Farm has a video for homeowners that shows them how to check for water leaks.

State Farm video on inspecting a home water leaks

Miami Dade water and sewer department has a leak detector guide to home water conservation.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Swine Flu H3N2 and H1N1 update
Feb. 18, 2015: Update from Sanchita Sharma Hindustan Times, New Delhi.  The India swine flu outbreak has affected more people this year but the case fatality rate is 1/3rd that of last year.  Early timely treatment has been very effective.

Update from Maria Cheng- AP Jan. 29, 2013:  Genetic variations in 25% of  people from China, Japan and Korea make them more susceptible to severe flu side effects.  People with the genetic variation need more aggressive treatment. 

The CDC is reporting an increase in cases of swine flu H3N2.  The flu is transmitted from swine to humans and in some cases has undergone a mutation to allow person to person transmission.  As of now the person to person route is not efficient.  Most infections have come from direct exposure to swine.   This is a link to the CDC health advisory posted August 3, 2012

Update: Minnesota State Fair Veterinarians will be monitoring pigs for symptoms of Swine flu according to an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The symptoms are high temperature, raspy cough and loss of appetite.  U of MN vets also tested seemly healthy pigs during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 and found that 19% of them carried the virus according to a Mpls. Star Tribune article.  Three people have been infected with flu as of August 31, 2012 at the State Fair and two pigs were removed from competition according to a Star Tribune article by Jeremy Olson

Former Minnesota state epidemiologist Mike Osterholm is recommending that the swine exhibit be closed to the public.  According to an August 21, 2012 article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Fair officials have yet to make a decision but are recommending that people who are not in good health stay away from the building.  They also recommend that people not eat while in the building and be sure to clean their hands before exiting the building.

The St. Paul Pioneer press reports on two cases of swine flu have been linked to the recently concluded Wisconsin State Fair.  The transmission appears to be from swine to people.

The heaviest case report are from Indiana where 113 individuals  as of August 9, 2012 are believed to have contracted the flu by interaction with swine this includes four at the LaPorte county fair from July 8 through July 14 .  The symptoms are similar to seasonal flu.  The CDC has a fact sheet on H3N2.  Persons most at risk are children under the age of 5, immune compromised individuals or people over the age of 65.   People who have not have received a seasonal flu vaccine are also at greater risk.  Persons are asked to reduced contact with swine and in particular those pigs that do not appear to be well.

From Health Partners:  When to see a doctor if you have the flu

What to do if you have the flu
Most people with the flu can manage with self-treatment and do not need to come into the clinic or Emergency Room. However, we recommend being seen by a doctor or care professional if you suspect you have the flu and any of these symptoms or conditions:
Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with a fever and a worse cough
Difficulty breathing
Pain or pressure in your chest
Sudden dizziness or confusion
Pregnant or within two weeks after delivery
A weakened immune system due to illness, medication, chemotherapy or HIV/AIDS
Any chronic respiratory disease
Health Parners also has a guide on sorting out the flu from the common cold.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Moldy Mansions in the news

Reuters reports on a mold remediation project for the Governor's Mansion in the state of Iowa, USA.  The Governor's Wife, Chris Branstad had not been feeling well and suspected a problem with their living area.  Air samples confirmed the presence of mold in the third story living area.  Governor Terry Branstad and his wife have moved back home during the three week mold remediation and build back of their residence.
Terrace Hill Mansion, Des Moines, IA

The Terrace Hill Commission will be getting an update on the situation during the week of August 5th 2012. 

Another mansion with mold problems includes for Chicago Bulls Basketball player Micheal Jordan's sprawling complex.  As reported in 2005 by the Benny Lipsman from the Chicagoist, his Highland Park mansion had issues with water infiltration and mold growth soon after it was constructed in 1999.  Micheal reached an out of court settlement for damages.