After All These Years, Was My Mom Right about Removing Your Shoes When Entering a Home?

My mother always made us take our shoes off just inside the doors of our home. Did that make scientific sense back then or now? Although most of us would not track wet, sandy or muddy shoes into living quarters, many of us routinely make an entrance wearing shoes that are dry and free of


“Germ” Terms: Villains and Heroes

“Germs,” “pathogens,” “microbes,” “probiotics,” the “human microbiome”… these are just a few of the terms in common use that pertain to the world of microscopic life forms that we alternately avoid and embrace. For example, to steer clear of becoming sick with the seasonal flu virus, many of us get an annual flu shot. Employees


A Thanksgiving Food Safety Quiz

Preparing a Thanksgiving feast is really an exercise in project management. Whether you are “sub-contracting” the sides or coordinating everything from “soup to nuts” yourself, an awareness of food safety is essential to reach the goal of a delicious, safely prepared meal. Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of food safety for the


The Coming Flu Season

Are you ready for the coming flu season? “Down under” in Australia where it is springtime, the number of flu cases has doubled over last season’s total. Could that be an indication of what we might expect soon in the northern hemisphere? According to self-proclaimed flu-ologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute


How to Keep Your Halloween Jack-o-Lantern Looking Fresh and Teach Your Kids a Little Science in the Process

Carving Jack-o-lanterns is a fun Halloween tradition. Whether you transform your pumpkin into an exquisite work of art or a sweet smiley face with triangle eyes, preserving your Jack-o-lantern from mold and mildew can be tricky. But here’s a Halloween treat of a hint: Jack-o-lanterns can be preserved for a short time with the help


Controlling the Spread of Invasive Aquatic Species with the Ballast Water Management Convention

Ballast water is the marine or fresh water taken into the ballast tank of a ship to improve the vessel’s stability, buoyancy and maneuverability. Unfortunately, the process of adding and subtracting ballast water, so vital to a ship’s operation, can have unintended consequences for aquatic ecosystems. Ballast water may include aquatic life forms native to


Autumn: When Leaves Fall, So Can Water Quality

Now that summer is over—and hopefully the record-setting 2017 hurricane season—many of us can turn our attention to the cooler temperatures, shorter days and the colorful splendor of autumn leaves. Of course, all of those red, orange, and yellow leaves are short-lived and fall to the ground, forming truly massive amounts of organic debris. But did you know


Getting Hepatitis A Off the Streets of San Diego

A Hepatitis A outbreak centered on homeless and illicit drug-using populations in the County of San Diego, California, has prompted a public health emergency. Headline-grabbing responses by local officials describe washing the streets and sidewalks with chlorine bleach solution, aggressively vaccinating the vulnerable populations, and distributing personal hygiene kits. What caused this local outbreak and


In the Wake of Hurricanes: The Problem with Standing Water

A discarded tire containing standing water can become a choice breeding ground for mosquitoes.   As flood waters recede in Houston and Florida, a new public health threat rears its ugly head: Mosquitoes breeding in standing water left in the wake of hurricanes. Puddles, flower pots and saucers, rain barrels, bird baths, pet bowls, discarded


Cleaning up After Hurricane Harvey: Chlorine Bleach Is Your Friend

After the shock and heartbreak of experiencing a flood comes the clean up to prevent further damage and spread of disease. Flood cleanup starts with removing flood water (usually contaminated with sewage) and drying the affected areas. Evaluate all items touched by flood waters, deciding which to keep and which to toss. Whenever possible, use