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EPA — Climate Change Indicators in the United States — New 2014 Edition

November 27, 2014 Comments off

EPA — Climate Change Indicators in the United States — New 2014 Edition
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Earth’s climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate events—like heavy rainstorms and record high temperatures—are already taking place. Scientists are highly confident that many of these observed changes can be linked to the climbing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, which are caused by human activities.

EPA is working with many other organizations to collect and communicate data about climate change. With help from these partners, EPA has compiled the third edition of this report, presenting 30 indicators to help readers understand observed long-term trends related to the causes and effects of climate change. In a manner accessible to all audiences, the report describes the significance of these trends and their possible consequences for people, the environment, and society. Most indicators focus on the United States, but some include global trends to provide context or a basis for comparison, or because they are intrinsically global in nature. All of the indicators presented relate to either the causes or effects of climate change, although some indicators show trends that can be more directly linked to human-induced climate change than others. EPA’s indicators are based on peer-reviewed, publicly-available data from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations. EPA selected these indicators based on the quality of the data and other criteria, using historical records that go back in time as far as possible without sacrificing data quality.

Indicators will be updated periodically on the Web as newer data become available.

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Research Priorities to Inform Public Health and Medical Practice for Ebola Virus Disease— Workshop in Brief

November 23, 2014 Comments off

Research Priorities to Inform Public Health and Medical Practice for Ebola Virus Disease— Workshop in Brief
Source: Institute of Medicine

The current epidemic of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), cause by a filovirus, has spread internationally, now affecting multiple continents, and has become the worst EVD outbreak in history since its discovery in 1976. While the Ebola viruses have typically been studied in laboratory settings, additional biomedical and public health research in real world settings can best prepare the United States to safeguard the public and at-risk workers.

At the request of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in collaboration with the National Research Council, convened a workshop on November 3, 2014 with key stakeholders and experts to discuss the research priorities that could guide medical and public health practice. Discussions included the degree of transmission and biopersistence of the virus under a range of conditions and on a variety of materials, as well as issues of handling potentially infected materials, decontamination, and the training and personal protective equipment and usage of traditional and nontraditional workers involved in the full spectrum of this response.

International Survey Of Older Adults Finds Shortcomings In Access, Coordination, And Patient-Centered Care

November 20, 2014 Comments off

International Survey Of Older Adults Finds Shortcomings In Access, Coordination, And Patient-Centered Care
Source: Health Affairs

Industrialized nations face the common challenge of caring for aging populations, with rising rates of chronic disease and disability. Our 2014 computer-assisted telephone survey of the health and care experiences among 15,617 adults age sixty-five or older in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States has found that US older adults were sicker than their counterparts abroad. Out-of-pocket expenses posed greater problems in the United States than elsewhere. Accessing primary care and avoiding the emergency department tended to be more difficult in the United States, Canada, and Sweden than in other surveyed countries. One-fifth or more of older adults reported receiving uncoordinated care in all countries except France. US respondents were among the most likely to have discussed health-promoting behaviors with a clinician, to have a chronic care plan tailored to their daily life, and to have engaged in end-of-life care planning. Finally, in half of the countries, one-fifth or more of chronically ill adults were caregivers themselves.

Estimated Burden of Keratitis — United States, 2010

November 17, 2014 Comments off

Estimated Burden of Keratitis — United States, 2010
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Keratitis, inflammation of the cornea, can result in partial or total loss of vision and can result from infectious agents (e.g., microbes including bacteria, fungi, amebae, and viruses) or from noninfectious causes (e.g., eye trauma, chemical exposure, and ultraviolet exposure). Contact lens wear is the major risk factor for microbial keratitis (1–3); outbreaks of Fusarium and Acanthamoeba keratitis have been associated with contact lens multipurpose solution use (4,5), and poor contact lens hygiene is a major risk factor for a spectrum of eye complications, including microbial keratitis and other contact lens–related inflammation (3,6,7). However, the overall burden and the epidemiology of keratitis in the United States have not been well described. To estimate the incidence and cost of keratitis, national ambulatory-care and emergency department databases were analyzed. The results of this analysis showed that an estimated 930,000 doctor’s office and outpatient clinic visits and 58,000 emergency department visits for keratitis or contact lens disorders occur annually; 76.5% of keratitis visits result in antimicrobial prescriptions. Episodes of keratitis and contact lens disorders cost an estimated $175 million in direct health care expenditures, including $58 million for Medicare patients and $12 million for Medicaid patients each year. Office and outpatient clinic visits occupied over 250,000 hours of clinician time annually. Developing effective prevention messages that are disseminated to contact lens users and investigation of additional preventive efforts are important measures to reduce the national incidence of microbial keratitis.

Reducing Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure: Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs

November 17, 2014 Comments off

Reducing Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure: Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs
Source: Community Preventive Services Task Force

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends comprehensive tobacco control programs based on strong evidence of effectiveness in reducing tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. Evidence indicates these programs reduce the prevalence of tobacco use among adults and young people, reduce tobacco product consumption, increase quitting, and contribute to reductions in tobacco-related diseases and deaths. Economic evidence indicates that comprehensive tobacco control programs are cost-effective, and savings from averted healthcare costs exceed intervention costs.

Read the full Task Force Finding and Rationale Statement for details including implementation issues, possible added benefits, potential harms, and evidence gaps.

Antimicrobial Resistance: A Problem Without Borders (2014)

November 13, 2014 Comments off

Antimicrobial Resistance: A Problem Without Borders (2014)
Source: Institute of Medicine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified antimicrobial resistance as one of five urgent health threats facing the United States this year. Antimicrobial resistance is a global health security threat that will demand collaboration from many stakeholders around the world. This report highlights the crosscutting character of antimicrobial resistance and the needs for many disciplines to be brought together to be able to deal with it more effectively.

CRS — Ozone Air Quality Standards: EPA’s 2015 Revision (October 3, 2014)

November 12, 2014 Comments off

Ozone Air Quality Standards: EPA’s 2015 Revision (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is nearing the end of a statutorily required review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The agency is under a court order to propose any revisions to the standard by December 1, 2014.

NAAQS are standards for outdoor (ambient) air that are intended to protect public health and welfare from harmful concentrations of pollution. If the EPA Administrator changes the primary standard to a lower level, she would be concluding that protecting public health requires lower concentrations of ozone pollution than were previously judged to be safe. In high enough concentrations, ozone aggravates heart and lung diseases and may contribute to premature death. Ozone also can have negative effects on forests and crop yields, which the secondary (welfarebased) NAAQS is intended to protect.

As of July 2014, 123 million people (40% of the U.S. population) lived in areas classified “nonattainment” for the primary ozone NAAQS. A more stringent standard might affect more areas, and sources that contribute to nonattainment might have to adopt more stringent emission controls. This could be costly: in 2011, EPA concluded that the annual cost of emission controls necessary to attain a primary NAAQS of 0.070 ppm (as opposed to the then-current standard of 0.075 parts per million, which remains in place today) would be at least $11 billion in 2020.

See also: EPA’s Upcoming Ozone Standard: How Much Will Compliance Cost?, CRS Insights (October 15, 2014) (PDF)

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