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News and Features Archive

This page provides links to past year’s EHS spotlight and news articles.

Quick links to EHS spotlight and news articles by year: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

2018 Archived News Items

Emergency Response Training in California: Piloting the Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response Operations Course in a Local Environmental Health Department – Guest Authors Marcy Barnett and Bernice Zaidel and CDC’s Martin Kalis discuss a unique training opportunity for the San Diego County environmental health department to practice specific scenarios in preparation for a local emergency.

Now What? A Tool to Help Commercial Fishermen Encountering Sea-Disposed Chemical Munitions – CDC’s CDR Danielle Mills introduces a new tool to protect the health of those who encounter chemical munitions at sea during commercial fishing, clamming, and dredging operations.

Benefits of Collaboration between a County Health Department and a Local University in North Carolina – CDC author Max Zarate-Bermudez and guest author Samantha Dye discuss how the health department in Gaston County, North Carolina, collaborated with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to help private well users reduce exposures to potential contaminants in their water.

PHF Partners with Tribes to Support Tribal Drinking Water Program Improvement – Read this blog about how CDC and the Public Health Foundation are providing technical assistance and training for tribal drinking water programs around the country.

September Is National Food Safety Month – Celebrate National Food Safety Month with these resources for food safety programs! Find information on food safety training, reporting, and research, along with new resources from other CDC colleagues and partners.

Get Ready for SepticSmart Week, September 17-21, 2018 – Download EPA’s Free SepticSmart Outreach Toolkit for downloadable, printable materials targeted to homeowners, including infographics and guides, web graphics and social media messages, and editable proclamation templates for community leaders.

Environmental Assessment Training Series (EATS): Practical Training for Food Safety Officials Hungry to Enhance Environmental Assessment Skills – CDC authors Erik Coleman and Laura Brown discuss CDC’s free online training to improve competency with conducting environmental assessments as part of foodborne illness outbreak investigations.

Announcing the 2018 Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) – Find updated content on disinfection and water quality, lifeguarding and bather supervision, risk management and safety, emerging public health topics, and continuing challenges for public pools and hot tubs/spas.

Advancing Public Health Departments’ Legionnaires’ Disease Prevention Efforts through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement – CDC authors LCDR Candis Hunter, CDR Laura Cooley, and CDR Jasen Kunz discuss how CDC has improved state and local capacity for Legionella outbreak response and prevention activities.

Take CDC’s New Training for Investigating Foodborne Illness Outbreaks – Practice applying environmental assessment skills in multiple outbreak scenarios.

New Studies on Retail Deli Practices – Reduce the risk of Listeria monocytogenes and other germs that cause foodborne illness and outbreaks by following practices from How Retail Delis Refrigerate Food and How Often Retail Delis Inspect Their Slicers.

Organizational Characteristics of Local Health Departments and Environmental Health Services and Activities – Learn about the association between characteristics of local health departments and delivery of environmental health services in their communities.

Why Are Environmental Health Services So Important? – Watch this new video to learn how environmental health services protect public health.

FREE Resources Organized by the 10 Essential Environmental Public Health Services – Find tools to help your program fill performance gaps with our list of resources indexed by the 10 Essential Environmental Public Health Services. Also, download our graphic illustrating the 10 Essential Services from the Public Health Image Library!

A Web-Based Review of Environmental Health Vector Control Services in the United States – Authors Andrew Ruiz, Christine Vanover, Alexis Parale, and CDR Justin Gerding discuss the role of environmental health in vector control services and how programs can strengthen their capacity.

March 11-17 Is National Groundwater Awareness Week – Explore our private well resources for environmental health programs.

Capturing Data on Contributing Factors to Outbreaks With the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System – In this column, CDR Adam Kramer, Maggie Byrne, and Elaine Curtiss discuss how contributing factors help CDC and partners understand how and why outbreaks occur.

Infographic on the Safe Water for Community Health (Safe WATCH) program – Learn how CDC works with health departments to improve well water programs.

Reducing Legionnaires’ Disease in Public Spas [PDF – 117 KB] – Learn how CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code offers critical guidance for reducing the risk of Legionnaires’ disease in public aquatic facilities in this column in ASHRAE Journal.

Safe Water Program Improvement e-Learning Series – Take CDC’s training for safer well water through stronger public health programs using the 10 Essential Environmental Public Health Services.

Improving Safe Drinking Water Programs One Essential Service at a Time: Closing the Water Quality Gap [PDF – 367 KB] – Guest columnist Greg Miao from ChangeLab Solutions explains how policy has been used to address federally unregulated drinking water.

2017 Archived News Items

Can Restaurant Managers Talk with Sick Workers? 3 Things Restaurant Managers Need To Know – Managers need to know if their workers are sick so they can decide if they should handle food. Do the Food Code, HIPAA, and ADA address the topic? Read our new fact sheet [PDF – 175 KB] to find out!

Food Safety Program Successes in Providing the 10 Essential Environmental Public Health Services [PDF – 247 KB] – Most state and local health departments in the United States have food safety programs that deliver important services. In this column, CDC’s Francoise Tete, Laura Brown, and CDR Justin Gerding discuss a recent survey of local and state food safety programs to learn about how they apply the 10 Essential Environmental Public Health Services.

Success Stories From CDC’s Safe Water for Community Health Grantees [PDF – 318 KB] – CDC’s Safe Water for Community Health (Safe WATCH) program helps state and county health agencies improve their safe drinking water programs for household wells. In this column, CDC’s Brian Hubbard discusses grantee success stories from the first year of the Safe WATCH.

New Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response (EHTER) Course – CDC’s popular awareness-level course has been revamped in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Factors that Contribute to Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness – Explore our new fact sheet of findings and recommendations based on data from nearly 300 outbreaks reported to CDC’s National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS).

Infographic on Contributing Factors – Learn about the top 4 contributing factors to foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants.

Food Safety Innovations in Federal Guidelines [PDF – 402 KB] – The Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities apply to concession and vending operations at federal facilities. In this column, CDC fellows Lauren Lipcsei and Taylor Radke discuss how innovative criteria could further reduce the risk of foodborne illness in federal foodservice operations.

Understanding the Needs, Challenges, Opportunities, Vision, and Emerging Roles in Environmental Health [PDF – 208 KB] – Recent public health crises are examples of diseases and events requiring a response from a prepared, sufficient, and equipped environmental health (EH) workforce. In this column, CDC’s CDR Justin Gerding and partners from NEHA and Baylor University describe an initiative to understand EH professional demographics, education and training, experience, areas of practice, and current and future needs.

Tools To Drive Quality Improvement of Vector Control Services. [PDF – 624 KB] – Quality improvement efforts are important for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental health programs and activities. In this column, LCDR Justin Gerding from CDC and Vanessa Lamers from the Public Health Foundation discuss how a population health driver diagram can capture and detail specific activities to address community health objectives.

Minimizing Risk of Illness and Injury at Public Aquatic Facilities by Maximizing the Power of Aquatic Facility Inspection Data. [PDF – 336 KB] – When environmental health practitioners enforce state or local codes during pool inspections, they prevent illness and injuries at public aquatic facilities. In this column, CDC’s Michele Hlavsa, CDR Jasen Kunz, and Michael Beach explain how health departments can use pool inspection data to improve aquatic health and safety.

New CDC Study on Food Allergies and Restaurants – Read the plain language summary of this study, including CDC recommendations to help restaurants reduce the risk of food allergic reactions. Check out the full article about this study in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Using the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS) To Enhance Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigations in New York City (NYC) Restaurants. [PDF – 224 KB] – Foodborne illness outbreak investigations identify and correct the environmental cause(s) of the outbreak so more people do not become ill. In this column, guest authors from the NYC Health Department explain how CDC’s NEARS provides tools for data collection and reporting to assist health departments with identifying causes of outbreaks in their communities.

Food Safety Study Plain Language Summaries – Read plain language summaries of food safety studies and recommendations from our Environmental Health Specialists Network.

CDC Takes Action to Improve the Reporting of Environmental Assessment Data During Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigations. [PDF – 371 KB] – Environmental assessments are an essential component of foodborne illness outbreak investigations. In this article, CDC’s Erik Coleman discusses NEARS, a surveillance system that collects environmental assessment data from outbreak investigations.

Vector Control for Environmental Health Professionals (VCEHP) – Register today for our new online training on using integrated pest management (IPM) to control vectors that spread pathogens, including Zika virus.

Legionnaires’ Disease Health Report – Read this new report about a 2015 outbreak associated with cooling towers in New York City.
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2016 Archived News Items

New Environmental Health (EH) Workforce Assessment – Learn about our initiative (UNCOVER EH) with the National Environmental Health Association and Baylor University to assess the current state and future trends in environmental health.

NCEH Blog on Ill Food Workers – Read this blog about preventing sick restaurant workers from working, which is critical to reducing foodborne illnesses and outbreaks.

New Study on Restaurant-Associated Outbreaks – Food workers are a main cause of foodborne disease outbreaks in restaurants. Read about the sources and causes of these outbreaks based on 15 years of data reported to CDC.

A Performance Management Initiative for Local Health Department Vector Control Programs – Read the article about an adaptable process for assessing and improving the performance of your vector control program.

New Study on What Restaurant Staff Think about Food Allergies – Our Environmental Health Specialist Network (EHS-Net) study found that restaurant staff were familiar with food allergies and had positive attitudes about accommodating customers with food allergies. However, we found important gaps.

New Study on Microwave Cooking Practices in Restaurants – CDC EHS-Net grantee in Minnesota examined microwave cooking practices of restaurants and other food service establishments in their state.

National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS) Summary Report [PDF – 445 KB] – Our first NEARS Summary Report provides information on outbreak characteristics, investigations, primary agents, contributing factors, and establishment characteristics. This information is useful for learning about how outbreaks occur and how to prevent them in the future.

Assessing Food Service Regulations and the Correlation with Prevention of Norovirus Outbreaks – A new article in the Journal of Food Protection examines state adoption of key Food Code provisions and their correlation with norovirus outbreaks.

Infographic on Kitchen Manager Certification [PDF – 379 KB] – Learn how certified kitchen managers can improve restaurant food safety and save money.

Legionnaires’ Disease Resources for Environmental Health Professionals – Explore Legionella resources for environmental health practitioners, including a Vital Signs report and infographic, environmental sampling videos, toolkit for developing a water management plan, and more.

Safe Water for Community Health (Safe WATCH) – About 1 in 9 American residents get their drinking water from a private well, and about 1 in 5 sampled private wells were found to be contaminated at levels considered unsafe. CDC encourages health departments to strengthen and improve their drinking water programs to keep communities safe. Our new drinking water improvement program has steps to improve your drinking water program and free tools and resources to help.

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week Toolkit – Swim season is right around the corner, and so is Healthy and Safe Swimming Week (May 23- 29). Get an early peek at CDC’s toolkit for this observance and make this summer the healthiest swim season yet.

New CDC Study: How Often Retail Delis Clean Their Slicers – What percentage of delis clean their slicers as often as FDA recommends to prevent germs from spreading? Check out our new study, published in CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, and our plain language summary to find out!

EHS Resources Organized by 10 Essential Services – We are excited to announce our latest addition to the EHS website! Find tools here to help your program fill performance gaps and contribute to larger performance improvement efforts such as voluntary public health accreditation.

CDC Report Highlights State Food Safety Practices – These reports highlight the status of state public health policies and practices designed to impact important public health issues, including food safety. Read the reports and check out the new food safety indicator on state adoption of selected foodborne disease-related provisions from the 2013 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code.

Rodent Control Program ProfilesRead these profiles describing best practices, challenges, and technical assistance needs of local rodent control programs (produced in collaboration with the National Association of County and City Health Officials).

Preventing Foodborne Illness InfographicDownload our new infographic [PDF – 2 MB] to learn how we help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks by understanding the environmental factors contributing to them. Note: This infographic has been revised to clarify and improve one of the graphics.

Acute Gastroenteritis Illness on Cruise Ships – The rate of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) illness on cruise ships has decreased over time, yet people often associate cruise ships with these illnesses. Read more from CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program in a new MMWR article or on VSP’s companion webpage.

Legionella Website with Videos & Other Outbreak Resources – CDC has developed a number of resources on this website to help health departments investigate legionellosis outbreaks in their area, including 6 short environmental investigation videos, an environmental assessment form, sampling procedures, and other Legionella outbreak investigation resources for health departments. Also, check out December 2015’s JEH cover story, Legionnaire’s Disease Outbreak at a Long-Term Care Facility [PDF – 689 KB] , for more information on a recent outbreak and how investigators resolved the situation.

Enhancing Environmental Health Knowledge (EEK): Vectors & Public Health Pests Virtual Conference – Join other environmental health professionals for this virtual conference sponsored by the National Environmental Health Association with support from CDC’s Environmental Health Services Branch.

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2015 Archived News Items

Keeping Cool Under Pressure: NYC Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak, Summer 2015 – This blog post discusses the work of a team of epidemiologists, laboratory scientists, and environmental health experts as they responded to this summer’s outbreak of Legionella, the largest ever recorded in New York City. In response to this outbreak, the city passed new legislation that requires registration of all cooling towers and defines maintenance standards. The collaborative efforts of public health professionals from city, state, and federal agencies made it possible for this outbreak to be identified, solved, and contained as quickly as possible. CDC’s Environmental Health Services Branch was instrumental in the environmental investigation.

EHS Support to Identify & Address Root Causes of Foodborne Illness – CDC works with health departments to investigate environmental factors that contribute to foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants, delis, and other retail food outlets. This page includes information about new health department funding to identify and address the root causes of foodborne illness in restaurants under RFA-EH-15-001.

The Role of Environmental Health Programs in Public Health Accreditation – The National Association of County and City Health Officials, with funding from EHSB, interviewed local health departments about the steps they take and types of environmental public health documentation they used in seeking accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board. This free, 2-page PDF shares the results, lessons learned, and best practice recommendations.

Groundwater Protection – This page includes resources for environmental health practitioners on groundwater protection.

Food Safety Resources for Environmental Health – Address environmental causes of foodborne illnesses with our new webpage bringing together all of CDC’s food safety resources for environmental health practitioners.

E-Learning on Environmental Assessment of Foodborne Illness Outbreaks – Practice skills in an interactive virtual environment and learn to conduct environmental assessments as part of outbreak investigations. Also, watch our video about this innovative training!

Food Safety Centers of Excellence – Six state health departments and their academic partners are providing in-person and online resources, training, and assistance in tracking foodborne illness and investigating outbreaks. This assistance is designed to strengthen foodborne illness surveillance and improve food safety in your community.

Best Food Cooling Practices for Restaurants – EHS-Net study examines the food cooling practices of 420 randomly selected restaurants to assess current practices and to provide recommendations for cooling foods more effectively to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.

Searching for E. coli – In 2006, a restaurant chain received spinach contaminated with E. coli, which made many people ill. Read the NCEH blog entry about how our scientists found out what caused a multistate outbreak of E. coli on spinach in 2006.

Acute Gastrointestinal Illness Following a Prolonged Community-Wide Water Emergency – New publication examines the association between water service disruptions and acute gastrointestinal illness.

EnvPHPS Logic Model for Drinking Water Programs – New tool with recommended strategies for public health department drinking water programs and activities to improve programmatic performance using the 10 Essential Environmental Public Health Services.

Controlling Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) – Study reports results of a successful campaign to eradicate the brown dog tick and reduce RMSF in an Arizona community with high RMSF-related fatalities.

Managerial Practices Regarding Workers Working while Ill – EHS-Net publication describes restaurant policies for sick workers, what happens when managers work when sick, and what happens when workers work when sick.

Improving Environmental Public Health Services Performance to Meet Community Needs [PDF – 1.35 MB] – New guidance document describes performance improvement resources and tools and explains how those tools are used to produce results that can be integrated into broader public health department performance improvement initiatives.

Restaurant Manager and Worker Food Safety Certification and Knowledge – Article examines the relationships among kitchen manager and worker food safety certification, food safety knowledge, restaurant and manager characteristics, and foodborne illness risk factors observed in restaurants.

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2014 Archived News Items

Restaurant Manager and Worker Food Safety Certification and Knowledge – Article examines the relationships among kitchen manager and worker food safety certification, food safety knowledge, restaurant and manager characteristics, and foodborne illness risk factors observed in restaurants.

Irrigation Water Issues Potentially Related to 2006 Multistate E. coli Outbreak on Spinach – In 2006, a restaurant chain received spinach contaminated with E. coli, which made many people ill. Environmental health investigators traced the spinach back to one farm’s irrigation system.

Vector Control Program Performance Improvement – Information about CDC funding to support performance assessment and improvement at vector control programs provided by state, tribal, local, and territorial public health departments.

Blog on Integrated Pest Management – Vince Radke talks about EHS’ integrated pest management program. EHS works with state and county health officials to control pests in restaurants. Information these officials learn through EHS’ programs is typically passed on to others in the restaurant industry.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Rodeo Project – In 2012, CDC began working in Arizona to control Rocky Mountain spotted fever after an outbreak of the vectorborne disease. CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases led the overall agency response, and EHS helped develop and implement an integrated pest management system to control the disease-transmitting ticks that were spread by the community dogs.

Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week 2014 – The week before the start of the summer swim season is Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) Prevention Week (May 19–25, 2014). Each year, RWII Prevention Week focuses on simple steps swimmers and pool operators can take to help ensure a healthy and safe swimming experience for everyone.

CDC’s New Environmental Health Tools to Improve Food Safety – Information on new training and new surveillance system to advance the use of environmental assessments during foodborne illness outbreak investigations.

EHS-Net Food Safety Articles – Links to four new publications on restaurant food handling practices that have been linked with foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurant settings.

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2013 Archived News Items

Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis Associated with a Manmade Chlorinated Lake–Tarrant County, Texas, 2008 [PDF – 317 KB] – Article highlighting the importance of close cooperation among epidemiology, laboratory, and environmental health colleagues in response to recreational water illness outbreaks.

Restaurant Safety: What You Should Know – Going out to eat? Keep these things in mind when choosing the right restaurant for you and your family.

EHS-Net Plain Language Summary on Restaurant Food Cooling Practices – No time to read journal articles detailing EHS-Net findings? The new summary of the 2013 food cooling study highlights the study findings and recommendations.

EHS-Net Water Safety Projects – EHS-Net’s multisite project looks at the seasonality of noncommunity water systems to understand how they provide safe drinking water and about vulnerabilities of those systems.

Restaurant Food Cooling Practices – New EHS-Net article includes quantitative data on temperature monitoring practices; refrigeration cooling practices, and cooling food temperatures.

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2012 Archived News Items

EHS Feature News page on Floods: Resources for EH Practitioners – Links to EHS and CDC resources for environmental health practitioners on flood response.

EHS Feature News page on Natural Disasters: Resources for EH Practitioners – Resources for environmental health practitioners on disaster preparedness and response.

EHS Feature News page on Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) Prevention Week — May 21–27, 2012 – Environmental health materials related to Healthy Swimming.

Disinfection and Water Quality Module for Public Review and Comment – Draft Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) module is open for public comment through April 27, 2012.

2011 Archived News Items

Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response (EHTER) – Read about how EHTER prepares environmental health workers for emergency response.

Guidance on Microbial Contamination in Previously Flooded Outdoor Areas – This guidance was developed for public health authorities, emergency response managers, and government decision makers. It defines how to assess the public health risks for using outdoor areas after a flood event where potential exposure to microbial contamination exists.

When Every Drop Counts: Protecting Public Health During Drought Conditions—A Guide for Public Health Professionals – Publication to assist public health officials, practitioners, and other stakeholders in their efforts to understand and prepare for drought in their communities.

Free Environmental Public Health Online Courses (EPHOC) – Courses are taught by environmental public health subject-matter experts from across the country. Fourteen courses are now available for REHS/RS credit!

Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute (EPHLI) Projects Available

National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS) – Food-safety programs can now access NEARS and pilot its use for foodborne illness outbreak environmental assessment reporting.

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