Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Maine CDC Coordinator Highlights the Importance of Radon Action Month

January is National Radon Action Month. Bob Stilwell, primary radon contact for the State of Maine since November 1990, answered some questions about radon and the health risks associated with it. 
Why is radon an important public health issue?
Radon is a proven human carcinogen, recognized by the U.S. EPA and U.S. Surgeon General as the number two cause of lung cancer overall and the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. The World Health Organization and International Atomic Energy Agency recognize radon as a serious radiation hazard that causes lung cancer and are taking steps to assist member nations in developing policies and programs to reduce radon exposure.
What are the most important things you do in your role as State Radon Coordinator?
1. Provide technical assistance and training to the radon industry in Maine, so the services they provide are durable and effective at reducing radon exposure to Maine residents.
2. Apply for and manage Federal grants every year that allow the radon effort in Maine to continue. All Maine state radon work has been funded by federal grants since 1990.
What do you wish everybody knew about radon?
I wish everyone knew that the “action level” of 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/l) for radon is not a “safe” or “acceptable” level. The action level for radon was set in the 1970s based on the ability of technology at that time to reduce radon levels in buildings.  At that time, technology could reduce radon to below 4 pCi/l in any building. If radon were treated like all other proven human carcinogens, with the “action” level set based on cancer risk instead of on 1970s mitigation technology, the “action” level would be less than one pCi/l.

For more information about radon, visit

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

News from the districts - Central

An important role of the Central District Coordinating Council (DCC) - and all DCCs - is to develop and implement a district public health improvement plan. District public health improvement plans have three purposes: (1) improve health of district residents, (2) improve the district public health system, and (3) inform the State Health Improvement Plan.
The Central DCC has worked this fall to review data and choose priorities for the 2016-19 plan and asked the hospitals and health systems in the district to present their newly-chosen strategic priorities to see where we can work together.
Priorities selected for 2016-19 are substance use/mental health, adverse childhood experiences, obesity, and oral health.  We are currently forming workgroups for each of these priority areas to review the evidence base for district improvement action and recommend strategies that will make a difference in the health of district residents.
Contact Paula Thomson at with questions or for more information.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born in the United States and are a leading cause of infant mortality. Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at an increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges. 
Although not all birth defects can be prevented, all women who could become pregnant or are pregnant can lower their risk of having babies with birth defects by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years, such as:
  • Do not eat raw or runny eggs or raw sprouts.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese and other foods made from them.
  • Talk to your health care provider about what you can do to prevent infections like Zika virus.
  • Make sure that you are up-to-date with vaccinations before getting pregnant.
  • Talk to your health care provider about vaccinations that you should receive during pregnancy.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards and turtles, and do not clean cat litter boxes while pregnant.
  • When mosquitoes and ticks are active, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
The United States Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (400mcg or .4mg) of folic acid daily to prevent up to 50-70 percent of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
For more information, visit