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Blue Green Algae
Blue-Green Algae Toxins and Bacteria at Nebraska Lakes
Weekly Sampling Measures Blue-Green Algae Toxins and Bacteria at Nebraska Lakes. During the summer months, Nebraska’s lakes are a popular destination for activities such as boating, water skiing and swimming. In an effort to provide the public with information about current water quality and potential risks, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality conducts weekly sampling at public beaches from the beginning of May until the end of September and posts the information on the agency web site.
NDEQ and its partners (the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Natural Resources Districts and other entities) obtain their weekly samples at publicly-owned and operated swimming beaches and public lakes that allow power boating. In 2008, 51 swimming beaches at 47 lakes were included in the network.
Every Friday, DEQ posts the results that have been compiled for the week on their web site and notifies local media and the public of any resulting Health Alerts.
Click here for Link to Environmental Alerts that includes Weekly Sampling Results
Click here for Fact Sheet regarding Health Alerts and toxic algae
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized the fluoridation of drinking water as one of ten great public health achievements of the twentieth century. Water fluoridation has helped improve the quality of life in the United States by reducing pain and suffering related to tooth decay, time lost from school and work, and money spent to restore, remove or replace decayed teeth. An economic analysis has determined that in most communities, every $1 invested in fluoridation saves $38 or more in treatment costs. Fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health over a lifetime, for both children and adults.
* Water Fluoridation - Frequently Asked Questions
* Four Corners District “My Water’s Fluoride”
* Cost Savings of Community Water Fluoridation
* Nebraska Communities that fluoridate or purchase fluoridated water
* Read more about the Ten Great Public Health Achievements -- United States, 1900-1999
* CDC Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Care in the United States.
Food safety and sanitation is the daily responsibility of those who prepare and cook food, not only in the food industry but at home. Most cases of foodborne illness can be prevented through proper cooking or processing of food, which kills bacteria.
Four Corners Health Department monitors foodborne illnesses in the district and investigates each one. A few simple precautions can reduce the risk of food borne illness:
Cook meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria.
Separate foods to prevent cross-contamination between different foods. Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather than back on the one that held the raw meat.
Chill leftovers promptly in the refrigerator. Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 2 hours. Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration.
Clean produce by washing it thoroughly. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime. Remove and discard the outmost leaves of a head or lettuce or cabbage. Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours. People should avoid being a source of foodborne illness themselves. This can be prevented by washing hands with soap and water before preparing food. Someone with a diarrhea illness should avoid preparing food for others.
For more information see links below:
Food Safety for Home Cooking
Safe Food Handler Practices and Conditions
Be Food Safe Brochure
Safe Grilling Flyer
Nebraska Pure Food Act
Temporary Food Establishment Requirements
Handling Household Medical Waste and Sharps
Home, Nursing Home, Assisted Living
What is household medical waste?
Household medical waste is waste that is generated as a result of health care activities in the home. It may include bandages, hypodermic needles and lancets, among other things. The primary focus of this guidance is the management of potential infectious waste.
Should I be concerned about the handling of medical waste from my home?
In general, medical wastes generated in the home are not a serious health concern. The exception could, however, be when the medical waste is an infectious waste. By Title 132 – Integrated Solid Waste Management Regulations, an infectious waste is any medical waste that is capable of causing disease in another human being if that person comes into contact with the waste. This may include wastes that are contaminated with blood or other body fluids from people who have infectious diseases. For a full regulatory definition of infectious waste see Title 132, Chapter 1, §053 et seq. Infectious diseases, like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B, are serious and can be fatal. That is why caution is necessary when handling any infectious wastes in your home. Steps should also be taken to protect the people who handle your household waste after it leaves your home.
What am I required to do with my household medical waste?
Household medical waste is considered a solid waste and must be disposed in a 2 permitted municipal solid waste landfill like any other type of household waste. If you think the medical waste you are generating in your home is infectious you should either treat the waste in a way that makes it no longer infectious or properly package the waste to reduce the risk of exposing others to possible infection.
Household medical waste can be added to your general household waste which is picked up by your garbage hauler or otherwise transported to a permitted municipal solid waste landfill. A health provider with access to proper infectious waste management can also accept your household medical waste. Note there is no obligation for any health provider to accept any medical wastes not generated at
their own facility.
How do I properly package infectious wastes for disposal?
The department recommends the following guidelines for packaging, transporting, or disposing infectious wastes generated in the home:
1) Place the waste in a rigid or semi-rigid, puncture-resistant and leak-proof container;
2) Do not mark or label the container in such a way as to divulge the contents;
3) Tightly close or seal the container; and
4) Ensure the outside of the container is free from contamination.
From a practical standpoint, any type of sharp medical wastes, such as needles or lancets, should be placed in a puncture-resistant container whether it is infectious or not. This will protect family members and waste handlers from possible cuts or punctures.
How do home health care nurses need to handle medical wastes?
Any medical waste that is generated in the home should be handled as described above or transported to the clinic/hospital for disposal. Medical waste from single- family homes collected by a home health care agent can and should be handled in the same manner. However, medical waste generated in hospitals and medical clinics must first be rendered non-infectious by incineration, autoclaving or other
treatment methods before disposal at any solid waste disposal area. Most clinics and hospitals use commercial medical waste services.
How about nursing homes or assisted living facilities?
The department views individual quarters where persons routinely reside as a “household” and medical waste generated from those quarters is considered Household Waste as defined at Title 132, Chapter 1, §049. Medical waste generated at a nursing home or assisted living facility in common areas such as nursing stations, examining rooms, or meeting rooms/hallways is not considered household medical waste and cannot be placed in the general trash.
Hospital rooms are not considered “households” by the department. A hospital room, as pleasantly designed as some might be, is not meant to be a residence in the way a nursing home or assisted living resident room is. They are meant for the express purpose of delivering medical treatments, procedures, or medical observation. Some assisted living facilities are closely associated with a connected hospital. If this is the case, the two facilities are separate as far as “household” medical waste generation is concerned.
Hospital infectious waste?
Hospitals are not allowed to dispose of infectious waste to a municipal solid waste landfill unless it is first rendered non-infectious (Title 132, Chapter 13, §004).
What about old or unused drugs?
See the following Guidance Document for better and correct ways to dispose of pharmaceuticals; Medications and Infectious Waste Disposal. This can be accessed at the NDEQ web site. Keep in mind the best way to manage pharmaceuticals is to procure only the amount you’ll need and following doctor’s orders use the pharmaceuticals for their intended use until fully consumed.
NDEQ Hazardous Waste Compliance Assistance (402) 471-8308
NDEQ Waste Management Section (402) 471-4210
NDEQ Toll Free Number (877) 253-2603
Nebraska Pharmacists Association
Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department
Download Household Hazardous Waste Regulations from the NDEQ (PDF)»
Four Corners receives many calls regarding landlord-tenant issues. We cannot provide legal advice in these situations, but we can provide information on landlord and tenant rights. The links below are excellent resources.
* Landlord-Tenant Pamphlet
* Nebraska Landlord-Tenant Act
* Landlord and Tenant Handbook
* Legal Aid of Nebraska's homepage
Lead Poisoning - Commonly Asked Questions
The key to mold control is moisture control. It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. After cleaning up the water, use fans and dehumidfiers to help remove the moisture from the air.
Find and fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water and dry completely. If bleach is used, make 10% solution by adding 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles and carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced. For more information on mold see the links below.
* "Is Mold Affecting my Health" Brochure
* "Get Rid of Mold" pamphlet - Centers for Disease Control
* "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" publication in English and Spanish
* U.S. EPA mold resources
Nebraska Indoor Clean Air Act
The Nebraska Clean Indoor Act became effective June 1, 2009
*Making your workplace smoke free
*Helping your business make a difference
*See more information on Smoke Free Nebraska
* Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008, Summary of the Law (Smoking Ban)
* Legislative Bill 395 - Nebraska Smoking Ban
* Frequently Asked Questions
Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services tests and tracks animals submitted for testing.
The number of rabies cases in animals is currently on the decline in Nebraska, according to Dr. Annette Bredthauer, the state’s public health veterinarian. But rabies is cyclical in nature, meaning the number of cases rise and fall, depending on the level of rabies in the skunk population.The most common hosts of rabies virus are skunks, followed by raccoons. Other common hosts include bats and domestic animals like cats, dogs and horses.
Four Corners Health Department assists individuals who have experienced an animal bite or exposure to a bat to assure that the rabies testing is done or the domestic animal is quarantined. If the animal is positive for rabies, the individual is referred to his healthcare provider for post exposure rabies vaccination. See link below for Nebraska statistics for positive rabies.
* Nebraska Rabies Cases 2010
Radon is a radioactive gas that you can’t see, taste or smell. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. When you breathe air that contains radon, you can get lung cancer. Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths in our country each year. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes. If the level of your home is above 4 pCi/L then action to reduce the level is recommended.
Four Corners Health Department partners with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide free or reduced priced Radon test kits to citizens in our counties. The following links will give you more information about Radon:
* EPA's A Citizens Guide to Radon in Spanish and English
* List of Nebraska businesses licensed to mitigate Radon
* Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Radon Link
* Average levels of Radon by zip code of homes tested in the Four Corners Health Department District (through 2005)
* New! Radon Video produced by Brent Butzke of Seward, Nebraska and Tarik Mohamed of Los Angeles, California.
There are many emergencies that can affect our ability to use our water supplies. They can include floods, tornadoes, power outages, and contamination of water supply systems from a variety of causes.
In some cases the emergency may be brief and easy to manage, or you may need to deal with long-term unavailability of usual water sources.
Depending on the situation, water could be available for some uses, such as bathing, even though it should not be used for drinking or cooking. It’s also possible water could be safe for use by some populations, such as teens and adults, while being unsafe for vulnerable populations, such as infants, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.
A boil water notice must be issued by a public water system when E.coli contamination is detected as an acute violation. In the event water needs to be boiled to be disinfected, the Nebraska Health and Human Services System recommends boiling time of one minute. Boiling is effective for coliform contamination. Boiling does not remove nitrate contamination; it actually concentrates the nitrate contamination. It is because many drinking water sources in Nebraska contain nitrate that NHHS recommends a one minute boiling time. For more information on water emergencies, go to the following links:
Recommended Procedures for Planning and Recovering from a Disaster
What is a boil water notice?
What do I do when a boil water notice is issued?
Guidelines for food establishments during a boil water advisory
West Nile Virus
The Four Corners Health Department assists the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services with West Nile Virus surveillance. Four Corners encourages citizens of Butler, Polk, Seward and York Counties to report dead birds by calling our office starting in May. Dead corvids (blue jays, crows and magpies) and raptors (hawks, owls and eagles) are collected for testing for West Nile Virus.
This year Four Corners Health Department is trapping mosquitoes biweekly from May – October. The mosquitoes will be tested for West Nile Virus and will give our counties an idea of the prevalence of the virus in mosquitoes.
Click on the topics below to learn more about West Nile Virus Surveillance and how to “fight the bite”.
*Human West Nile Virus Cases in Nebraska
* Human West Nile Virus Cases (in Four Corners District)
* West Nile Virus Fact Sheets
* I found a dead bird
* Insect Repellents