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Pepsi True Savaged on Amazon Over Palm Oil Controversy

Triple Pundit - 2 hours 17 min ago
Pepsi True, currently only sold on Amazon, has run into a problem: horrid reviews over its palm oil policy.

What Defines a Social Innovator Anyway?

Triple Pundit - 5 hours 13 min ago
Sifting the wheat from the chaff at Social Innovation Summit Silicon Valley 2014.

Connelly/My Turn: Eliminating plastics - The Recorder

Plastic Pollution - 6 hours 7 min ago

Connelly/My Turn: Eliminating plastics
The Recorder
Plastic micro particles also result from solar disintegration. Both micro particle types look like plankton and collect pollution molecules in the oceans. Animals that eat the plastic “plankton” absorb the pollution and pass clean plastic back into the ...

Categories: News Feeds

Public health labs and the Ebola response: ‘This is the type of work they do day in and day out’

Pump Handle - 6 hours 10 min ago

Months before the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in Texas, the state’s public health laboratory had begun preparing for the disease to reach U.S. shores. And while the virus itself is an uncommon threat in this country, the response of the nation’s public health laboratory system wasn’t uncommon at all — in fact, protecting people’s health from such grave threats is exactly what they’re trained to do.

“Having that preparedness background, we’re always ready to get that call at 3 in the morning,” said Grace Kubin, director of the Laboratory Services Section at the Texas Department of State Health Services. “Our staff is already in that mindset, they know they have to be on top of their game all the time. …When you hear about Ebola and hear about the deaths, it makes people pause and rightly so — it’s a deadly disease. But because of their training, the lab staff are able to work through that and get the job done.”

Frenzied news coverage of Ebola in the U.S. may have given the impression that the nation’s public health system was scrambling to respond. The truth, though, is that confronting and containing a disease like Ebola through identification, investigation, science, education and prevention is exactly what the public health system is designed to do. And since the terrorist attacks of 2001, state and local public health departments have received billions in preparedness funding to strengthen the system’s capacity to respond to all types of hazards, including infectious diseases such as Ebola. One of the critical foundations of that system is the public health laboratory. Indeed, it’s not a stretch to say that the public health laboratorians who quickly and accurately identify dangerous diseases and keep in close contact with sentinel labs throughout their communities provide the foundation for the vital disease containment work that follows.

In Texas, the state public health lab that diagnosed the first U.S. Ebola case is part of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN), which became operational in 1999 and is charged with “maintaining an integrated network of state and local public health, federal, military, and international laboratories that can respond to bioterrorism, chemical terrorism and other public health emergencies,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, there are more than 150 members within the LRN, representing every U.S. state, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and South Korea. Texas was among the first dozen of LRN labs to receive the Ebola detection test kit, which was developed at the Department of Defense and which received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August.

That same month, CDC contacted the Texas state public health lab about Ebola testing, Kubin told me. The lab was a perfect choice — its staff was already highly skilled in handling dangerous infectious and bioterrorism agents. After Kubin received approval from the state health commissioner to move forward with Ebola testing, preparations began. The lab received its first Ebola test kit in August. The test is known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and it’s a “test that our team is very familiar with running,” Kubin said. To make sure lab staff could accurately use the test, CDC sent them a blind sample panel (or a qualification panel). Staff don’t know what the panel contains and have to effectively deploy the test kit — following its protocols precisely to a tee — to get the correct result. The lab heard from CDC in late August that it had passed the qualification panel on its first attempt.

Kubin and her lab colleagues also began working with epidemiologists within the health department’s Emerging and Acute Infectious Disease Branch to ensure that the proper criteria were in place to determine who would be screened for Ebola. (Kubin noted that the department’s epidemiologists are accustomed to working with local health care providers any time the state experiences a serious outbreak, such as measles or food-borne illness. They’re able to really hone in on the risk factors related to Ebola, which has symptoms similar to many other diseases, and isolate the cases that should be referred for testing, Kubin told me.) Once the epidemiologist gets approval from CDC to test a patient for Ebola, lab staff work with health care providers to make sure blood samples are drawn correctly and the sample is safely packaged and shipped.

On Monday, Sept. 29, at 3 a.m. in the morning, Kubin got notice of a possible Ebola case in Dallas. (That patient was Thomas Eric Duncan, who traveled to Texas from Liberia and who eventually succumbed to the virus.) Later that same day, CDC gave approval for the Texas lab to test Duncan for Ebola, and a specimen was shipped to the lab the next day. The lab received the specimen at 9:07 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30. Results were in just hours later at 1:22 p.m. In addition to testing Duncan, the Texas lab also tested specimens from the two nurses who contracted Ebola while caring for Duncan.

While I was talking to Kubin about the lab’s role in containing Ebola, it was clear that while Ebola is certainly an unusual threat to face in Texas, the lab’s response is hardly out of the ordinary. Her message was clear: This is what we do — this is what we train for. Like all labs in the LRN, the Texas public health lab has “Biosafety Level 3” capacity, which means it has the training, infrastructure and resources to test for infectious agents that can cause serious and lethal diseases. As an LRN member, the Texas lab also works with hospital and commercial labs (also known as sentinel labs) to provide training on testing as well as how to safely package and ship specimens. (Not surprisingly, when I spoke with Kubin in early November, the lab’s upcoming packaging and shipping training was completely full.)

Kubin credited much of her lab’s emergency capacity, in part, to federal public health preparedness funds. Unfortunately, as of fiscal year 2013, funding for CDC preparedness and response activities was down by $1 billion since funding began in 2002 in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“That funding has allowed us to be ready to handle Ebola,” Kubin said. “That was our foundation, that was our infrastructure. The funding we receive today pays for people who do the work and supports the facility we’re working in. These are highly specialized lab facilities and a huge amount goes into making the people and the environment safe. There will always be ongoing and recurring costs.”

To the west in Arizona, Victor Waddell, laboratory director of the Arizona Public Health Laboratory at the Arizona Department of Health Services, noted that “yes, labs are expensive…but in this instance, we can show the value that people are getting for their money.”

Waddell is referring to his lab’s capacity to test for Ebola. A member of the LRN, the Arizona lab received the Ebola test kit in early October and passed the validation panel on its first attempt. Like their public health lab colleagues in Texas, responding to the Ebola threat is part and parcel of what the Arizona lab does on a routine basis. Arizona public health lab staff regularly take part in drills and activities that exercise the lab’s response and surge capacity; staff also work with sentinel labs throughout the state to provide biosafety, packaging and shipping training. (When I spoke with Waddell in late October, he said the lab had been fielding many calls a day, mostly from sentinel labs with questions about developing a response plan and safely packaging and shipping specimens for testing.) As part of their Ebola response, Waddell said the lab began posting extra guidance for sentinel labs, emphasizing the need to ramp up biosafety supplies and personal protective equipment. The Arizona lab’s capacity and training mean that it’s able to test for Ebola and procure a result within six hours of receiving a specimen.

“Being in the lab, we think a lot differently about these things because we’ve been brought up to know how to handle these types of infectious diseases,” Waddell told me. “You can ask people in the lab if it scares them and they’d say, ‘no, we handle (these types of agents) all the time.’ …From a lab perspective, we’re to help people, we’re here to make sure the (public health) system can respond effectively. It’s really key for the lab response to be a part of this and to be able to get samples tested quickly so public health officials can make appropriate decisions.”

In fact, the work of the nation’s public health labs in response to Ebola is not much different than how they would respond to other emerging threats, said Chris Mangal, director of public health preparedness and response at the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

“This is a core function of public health laboratories, so this is a typical part of their routine,” Mangal told me. “This is the type of work they do day in and day out.”

As of Nov. 17, 39 U.S. public health laboratories have the ability to test for Ebola using the Department of Defense-developed test kit, which is distributed through the LRN system. According to Mangal, the LRN is the perfect mechanism for such distribution — it holds its member labs to a high standard of quality and safety and has a standardized communications network that allows laboratorians to rapidly communicate and share results with CDC. For example, it was the same network used to test for H1N1 as well as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The LRN facilitates constant dialogue and information sharing, noted Peter Kyriacopoulos, senior director of public policy at APHL.

But all of this capacity doesn’t come for free, Kyriacopoulos said. Sustainable funding is needed to support public health lab technology, procure equipment, maintain that equipment and make sure staff knows how to safely and effectively use it. Ongoing proficiency as well as surge capacity is key, Kyriacopoulos said, adding that in light of the strain that results from funding cuts, “we’re fortunate that we have not had more than one crisis develop at a time.”

“So much of our response starts with the public health lab,” he said.

According to the latest report from the World Health Organization, there have been 15,351 reported Ebola cases in eight countries with nearly 5,500 reported deaths. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to experience the worst of the global outbreak.

To learn more about the role of public health laboratories in protecting the nation from emerging diseases and threats, visit the Association of Public Health Laboratories.

Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for more than a decade.

Categories: Health

Video: Tawanna Black of Northside Funders Group Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

Triple Pundit - 7 hours 59 min ago
"Simply having diversity does not produce results for the bottom line," Tawanna Black, executive director of Northside Funders Group, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference last month.

Exelate Receives BPA Certification For B2B Audience Data - MediaPost Communications

BPA - 8 hours 12 min ago

Exelate Receives BPA Certification For B2B Audience Data
MediaPost Communications
Data management platform (DMP) and data provider eXelate on Tuesday announced that independent auditing organization BPA Worldwide has certified eXelate's online B2B audience data. BPA historically audited the print circulation of magazines and has, ...
BPA Worldwide Certifies eXelate's B2BX Online Audience Data for Accuracy and ...MarketWatch

all 4 news articles »
Categories: News Feeds

Whale of a Weekend Day Two

Heal the Bay - 10 hours 29 min ago
February 15, 2015 - 12:30pm - 5:00pm

Location Heal the Bay's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium 1600 Ocean Front Walk beach level, beneath the Santa Monica Pier Santa Monica, CA 90401 See map: Google Maps

Celebrate the annual migration of the Pacific gray whale at Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium during “Whale of a Weekend,” February 14th & 15th. Whale-themed activities will be ongoing both days from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the marine science center, 1600 Ocean Front Walk, located beach level at the Pier.

The Pacific gray whale completes one of the longest migrations of any species, traveling as many as 14,000 miles round trip between the arctic seas and the warm lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. This migration takes the whales past the Santa Monica Pier -- sometimes within viewing distance from the west end observation deck.

Aquarium visitors can feel the heft of a whale rib, check out bristly baleen and try on a layer of (simulated) whale blubber for warmth.  Kids of all ages can have their faces painted and make a whale visor to take home. Learn more interesting facts about these gentle giants at the Aquarium through story time, film screenings and presentations about the gray whale’s migration habits.  

Aquarium naturalists, along with representatives of the American Cetacean Society, will staff a wildlife observation station at the west end of the Santa Monica Pier.  Those who stop by are welcome to spy for whales through binoculars and field guides will be available to identify local birds and other marine life.

Categories: Oceans

New video highlights bottled water's small water use and big health benefits - Virtual-Strategy Magazine (press release)

Bottled Water - 10 hours 43 min ago

New video highlights bottled water's small water use and big health benefits
Virtual-Strategy Magazine (press release)
Bottled water is a small and efficient water user that spares people of billions of calories when they choose to drink water over other packaged drinks, according to a new video released by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) via its ...

and more »
Categories: News Feeds

Whale of a Weekend Day One

Heal the Bay - 10 hours 46 min ago
February 14, 2015 - 12:30pm - 5:00pm

Location Heal the Bay's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium 1600 Ocean Front Walk beach level, beneath the Santa Monica Pier Santa Monica, CA 90401 See map: Google Maps

Celebrate the annual migration of the Pacific gray whale at Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium during “Whale of a Weekend,” February 14th & 15th. Whale-themed activities will be ongoing both days from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the marine science center, 1600 Ocean Front Walk, located beach level at the Pier.

The Pacific gray whale completes one of the longest migrations of any species, traveling as many as 14,000 miles round trip between the arctic seas and the warm lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. This migration takes the whales past the Santa Monica Pier -- sometimes within viewing distance from the west end observation deck.

Aquarium visitors can feel the heft of a whale rib, check out bristly baleen and try on a layer of (simulated) whale blubber for warmth.  Kids of all ages can have their faces painted and make a whale visor to take home. Learn more interesting facts about these gentle giants at the Aquarium through story time, film screenings and presentations about the gray whale’s migration habits.  

Aquarium naturalists, along with representatives of the American Cetacean Society, will staff a wildlife observation station at the west end of the Santa Monica Pier.  Those who stop by are welcome to spy for whales through binoculars and field guides will be available to identify local birds and other marine life.

Categories: Oceans

China’s Lake Ebinur Is Shrinking Dramatically, NASA Image Shows

Yale Environment 360 - 11 hours 3 min ago
As this NASA satellite image shows, Lake Ebinur, located in northwestern China near the border of

Enlarge

China's Lake Ebinur Kazakhstan, has shrunk by 50 percent since 1955 as a result of development, agriculture, and natural fluctuations in precipitation. The lake’s saline water is light blue, and the dried lake bed appears white due to salts and other minerals that have been left behind as the water evaporates. The lake’s size fluctuates from year to year due to natural variations in snowmelt and rainfall, and human activity also plays a key role, Chinese researchers say. The nearby city of Bole, with a population of 425,000, consumes significant amounts of water, and farmers irrigate their crops — especially cotton — with water that would otherwise flow into the lake, researchers say. Frequent saline dust storms contribute to desertification, damage soils, harm wetlands, and may be hastening the melting of snow and glaciers downwind, researchers say.
Categories: Environment, Health

Ivory Coast protest over plastic bag ban - BBC News

Plastic Bag Bans - 11 hours 16 min ago

BBC News

Ivory Coast protest over plastic bag ban
BBC News
Police in Ivory Coast have fired tear gas and used batons to disperse crowds protesting about a ban on plastic bags used to carry water. One person was injured and several people were detained by police. The protesters had gathered outside the prime ...
Plastic bag protest turns uglyNews24

all 5 news articles »
Categories: News Feeds

How You Can Take Girls Off the Waiting List!

Girl Scouts of America - 12 hours 14 min ago
Every Girl Scout has the power to make a big difference—in her school, in her community, and in the world at large.

Today, 30,000 girls want to join a Girl Scout troop, but they are on waiting lists because there is a critical shortage of Girl Scout volunteers to offer the necessary support, encouragement, and guidance that all Girl Scouts need along the way.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of Girl Scouts— they are our everyday heroes. Volunteers enable girls to dream big and to realize that they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. And because volunteers play such a vital role in delivering the Girl Scout experience, they deserve top-notch resources and training, and all the support we can provide for them.
But right now, we’re facing a shortage of funds needed to identify, recruit, and train new volunteers.
That’s where you come in. Your investment will help us support new volunteers and bring the best to our 800,000 volunteers around the country. Whether they are moms, dads, college students, or Girl Scout alumnae, they need your support to empower the next generation of girls.
When you invest in Girl Scouts you’re helping us recruit and keep volunteers who impact the lives of countless girls by generously offering their time and talents.
After all, girls can’t change the world when they’re stuck on a waiting list.
Here are two steps you can take today to help increase the number of volunteers and bring the power of Girl Scouts to more girls:
  1. Invest in Girl Scouts locally or nationally and support volunteers across the country to reach even more girls! Give today at: www.girlscouts.org/invest
  2. Volunteer with Girl Scouts in your local area. Every adult who volunteers for Girl Scouts gives at least five more girls a chance to be a Girl Scout. Start today at: www.girlscouts.org/volunteer 
Categories: Environment

East Hampton Town Board Considers Plastic Bag Ban - 27east.com

Plastic Bag Bans - 13 hours 39 min ago

27east.com

East Hampton Town Board Considers Plastic Bag Ban
27east.com
The East Hampton Town Board has received a good deal of outspoken support for a regionally proposed ban on single-use plastic bags, the lightweight ones customers carry away from many retail stores and supermarkets, and which often become roadside ...
Plastic Bag Ban May Soon Come To Several Hamptons TownsHamptons.com

all 8 news articles »
Categories: News Feeds

BPA Worldwide Certifies eXelate's B2BX Online Audience Data for Accuracy and ... - MarketWatch

BPA - 13 hours 56 min ago

BPA Worldwide Certifies eXelate's B2BX Online Audience Data for Accuracy and ...
MarketWatch
Validation from BPA Worldwide certifies that eXelate's data is accurate and anonymously collected in compliance with the industry's highest standards. To earn certification, eXelate underwent a comprehensive audit of its data quality, focusing on how ...

and more »
Categories: News Feeds

BPA Worldwide Certifies eXelate's B2BX Online Audience Data for Accuracy and ... - MarketWatch

BPA - 13 hours 56 min ago

BPA Worldwide Certifies eXelate's B2BX Online Audience Data for Accuracy and ...
MarketWatch
NEW YORK, NY, Nov 25, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- eXelate, the leading independent data platform, today announced that iCompli, a service of BPA Worldwide (www.bpaww.com), an independent, global auditing organization supported by 2,700 ...

and more »
Categories: News Feeds

Tybee businesses and beachgoers weigh in on proposed plastic bag ban - WBTW - Myrtle Beach and Florence SC

Plastic Bag Bans - 15 hours 16 min ago

Tybee businesses and beachgoers weigh in on proposed plastic bag ban
WBTW - Myrtle Beach and Florence SC
I don't like to see them in the rivers, I don't like to see them on beaches, in the trees, but a bag ban on Tybee? It's a drop in the bucket to the rest of the state and the rest of the county that comes and visits Tybee which is where most of it comes ...

and more »
Categories: News Feeds

ASA upholds B&Q claim that garden polystyrene devastates wildlife - DiyWeek.net

Polysterene - 16 hours 26 min ago

DiyWeek.net

ASA upholds B&Q claim that garden polystyrene devastates wildlife
DiyWeek.net
One video claimed that "old-style polystyrene bedding trays really are a nuisance ... They break up and leave bits of polystyrene blowing all over the garden and, worse, they can't be recycled ..." The second said "polystyrene can't be recycled easily ...

Categories: News Feeds

TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline Faces Stiff Opposition at Home

The EnvironmentaList - 16 hours 54 min ago
With public protests on the rise, Ontario and Quebec to work together to ensure climate change is addressed before project is approved
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

How your DNA has evolved with parasites

Green Prophet - November 24, 2014
Parasites need to adapt to continue living off their hosts. Almost every type of organism on earth faces parasitism, including us humans. Ecologists have assumed that the parasite has influenced the...
Categories: Lifestyle

Video: Maggie Davies of Net Impact Talks Diversity at NI14

Triple Pundit - November 24, 2014
"Zooming out entirely: The global challenges that we face are massive and very complex, and it's going to require everyone being involved," Maggie Davies, chief of strategy and talent for Net Impact, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis.
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