Friday, February 19, 2016

Study of Arsenic in Well Water Answers Important Questions about Bathing and Treatment

Showering and taking a bath in well water high in arsenic are not significant arsenic exposure sources for children and adults, according to a new study by the Maine CDC and US CDC.

This is good news for the tens of thousands of Maine residents who likely have too much arsenic in their well water. Bathing in contaminated well water is one of the top concerns voiced by the more than 700 Mainers who seek well water advice from Maine CDC experts each year.

The study also shows that switching to bottled water or installing an arsenic treatment system at the kitchen sink—real-world solutions used by many Maine residents—effectively reduce arsenic exposure when arsenic levels are below 40 micrograms per liter. This is more good news because these strategies may be less expensive than systems that treat all of the water used in the house.

Reducing exposure is more complicated for people when their well has an arsenic level above 40 micrograms per liter, especially if there are young children in the home. For these residents, the study confirms the importance of using bottled or treated water not only for drinking, but for all beverage and food preparation as well.

Less than 2 percent of Maine wells have arsenic levels above 40 micrograms per liter.

The study examined the amount of arsenic in individuals’ urine in relation to their untreated water arsenic concentration, daily water and food consumption and time spent bathing. Participants were children and adult volunteers from 167 Maine households with well water arsenic levels greater than 10 micrograms per liter, and where residents drank bottled water or water treated at the kitchen sink.

Authored by Maine’s State Toxicologist, Andrew Smith, and colleagues, the study appears in the February 15 edition of Science of the Total Environment.

The Maine CDC thanks all of the study volunteers for their participation and contribution to public health.

Learn More

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Maine Earns More Recognition For Its Success in Vaccination

There’s no disputing that 2015 was the best year in Maine’s history when it comes to vaccination rates. 

In August, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention tapped Maine as number one in the nation for vaccination rates for children age 19 to 35 months and recently, the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases presented the Maine Immunization Program with six additional awards for its high level of vaccination coverage for virtually all ages. 

Maine reached the Healthy People 2020 goals for vaccination in children age 19-35 months, adolescents age 13 to 17 and for influenza vaccine for children from age 6 months to 17 years. 

In addition, Maine was cited for having the highest pneumococcal vaccination coverage among high-risk adults age 18 to 64, and earned Most Improved honors for that same population, as well as children 19-35 months. 

“This recognition means that the hard work of our staff , medical providers, school personnel and our many partners from Kittery to Fort Kent is paying off,’’ said Maine Immunization Program Manager Tonya Philbrick. “Parents are receiving the information they need to make informed decisions, and people are taking action to protect themselves against the flu, pneumonia and other diseases. Maine’s intense effort through many different initiatives has made a difference. While there’s more work to be done, I could not be happier with the results.” 

A key to the success has been communication with the more than 400 providers who are registered with the Maine Immunization Program and offering free vaccine to their eligible patients. Many receive practice-level data around vaccination rates and all have access to county-level data for comparison. The program also partners with more than with more than 130 schools and school districts to hold on-site influenza vaccination clinics. 

“While these awards are presented to our program, the credit must be shared with many other partners within state government and in the private sector,’’ said Kenneth Albert, Director and Chief Operating Officer for the Maine CDC. “This success serves as striking example of how a coordinated public health effort can yield amazing results.” 

The mission of the Maine Immunization Program is to reduce or eliminate all vaccine preventable diseases, and immunizations are the single most important way to protect against serious and sometimes deadly diseases. 

To learn more about how to receive free vaccine for your child, ask your health care provider, contact the Maine Immunization Program at 1-800-867-4775 or visit

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lyme disease prevention poster contest

This year will be the 7th annual statewide Lyme disease prevention poster contest in schools for students K-8. Children this age have high rates of Lyme disease, which is why increasing their knowledge of prevention is important.

The topic of this year’s contest is “Tick Watch” to emphasize awareness and prevention of ticks. Posters should be creative, colorful and express the importance of being informed about ticks and mindful of good prevention habits. Along with this theme, students should try to illustrate at least one specific preventative method on the poster, such as:  use an EPA-approved repellent, wearing protective clothing, performing daily tick checks or using caution in tick infested areas.

Two more examples of last year’s winning designs and general Lyme disease information are available at:

For questions about the poster contest, email the Public Health Corps at

Friday, February 5, 2016

Is your high blood pressure “hiding in plain sight”?

High blood pressure can lead to other health problems, such as heart attack and stroke. According to U.S. CDC almost 70 percent of people who have a heart attack and 80 percent of people who have a stroke have high blood pressure. About 30 percent of adults have high blood pressure but almost one in five doesn’t know they have it, primarily because there are no symptoms. Their high blood pressure is “hiding in plain sight.”

Ask your doctor if you have high blood pressure or visit a wellness screening. Getting enough physical activity and eating properly can help keep your blood pressure under control.

For more information on high blood pressure, including how to prevent and control it, visit or talk to your health care provider.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Organ donation

Organ donation allows for healthy organs and tissues to be taken from one person for transplantation into another. The organs from one donor can save or help as many as 50 people. 
The majority of individuals who register as organ and tissue donors register their intent at a Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) office. The Maine Organ and Tissue Donation Advisory Council has set a goal of 55 percent Donor Designation Rate for 2016, an increase from last year’s rate of 53 percent.
Maine residents who are 16 years of age or older can help save lives by signing up on the Maine Organ Donor Registry. Registration is free and takes a few minutes. You can sign up or check your registration at

For more information about organ donation, visit