We all can do our part for the planet

Ocean Data for Connecticut

By Emily Wilson

I recently learned about two impressive resources for ocean-based geographic information. One is the Northeast Ocean Data Portal and the other is the New York Geographic Information Gateway. Both are well-developed websites that include a comprehensive data viewer, ancillary information and stories about how ocean information has been used with multiple benefits. The Northeast Ocean Data Portal people and New York Geographic Information Gateway people cooperate (hooray!) in order to provide the most comprehensive mapping to their audiences.

The Northeast Ocean Data Data Explorer has many categories of layers including Commercial Fishing,  Aquaculture, Habitat and Water Quality as well as a search. Be sure not to miss the individual fish species maps. Click on the Fish category and then View Individual Species. A window with 5 tabs, each representing different fish trawls including the Long Island Sounds one (LIS), opens and contains a long list of species. The maps show all sample areas and highlights where that species was found. An impressive amount of information that is easy to access and visualize.

data explorer

The New York Information Gateway Data Viewer contains loads of information for Long Island Sound. Layers are grouped into eight categories including Biological, Commercial Fishing, Habitat and more. As layers are turned on, they build a legend where they can be re-ordered, downloaded or opened in Google Earth. Nice!

gateway

For the mapping folks, both viewers make it super easy to locate the web service URLs (REST endpoints) so that they can be ingested into your own GIS. For the Northeast Data Portal, look for the icon to the right of each layer.
Northeast Ocean Data Portal

For the New York Gateway, expand the layer (down triangle) in the legend and then locate the lightening bolt.New York Geographic Information Gateway

Both are easy to use resources full of information.  Check them out!

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October Lifelong Learning Programs

CLIR classroomCLIR, a lifelong learning program offered in collaboration with UConn Extension, will hold the following classes in October, all in Vernon Cottage on UConn’s Depot Campus,from 1:15 to 2:45 unless otherwise noted.

Memoir Club                                                  Thursdays     10:15 – 11:45

Wed  Oct 4  Putin vs. the World

Tues Oct 10  Everything You Wanted to Know About the English Auxiliary Verb, But Were…

Wed  Oct 11  Gender and Politics in a Comparative Perspective

Tues  Oct 17  AARP CT presents The Con Artist Playbook:  A Look Inside the Mind of a Criminal

Thurs Oct 19  They Called Her Reckless:  A True Story of War, Love and One Extraordinary Horse

Wed  Oct 25  Before the War:  The Multicultural Empire of Vietnam

Thurs Oct 26  Gender from the Perspective of a Biopsychologist

Tues  Oct 31  The History and Mission of the CT Superior Court

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October Lifelong Learning Programs

CLIR classroomCLIR, a lifelong learning program offered in collaboration with UConn Extension, will hold the following classes in October, all in Vernon Cottage on UConn’s Depot Campus,from 1:15 to 2:45 unless otherwise noted.

Memoir Club                                                  Thursdays     10:15 – 11:45

Wed  Oct 4  Putin vs. the World

Tues Oct 10  Everything You Wanted to Know About the English Auxiliary Verb, But Were…

Wed  Oct 11  Gender and Politics in a Comparative Perspective

Tues  Oct 17  AARP CT presents The Con Artist Playbook:  A Look Inside the Mind of a Criminal

Thurs Oct 19  They Called Her Reckless:  A True Story of War, Love and One Extraordinary Horse

Wed  Oct 25  Before the War:  The Multicultural Empire of Vietnam

Thurs Oct 26  Gender from the Perspective of a Biopsychologist

Tues  Oct 31  The History and Mission of the CT Superior Court

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How Clean is That Refrigerator of Yours?

By Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH

Senior Extension Educator/Food Safety

healthy foodThe invention of mechanical refrigeration was one of the most important developments in the history of keeping food safe (others include the pasteurization of milk and commercial canning).  Ask anyone who has suffered through the aftermath of a hurricane or ice storm without the benefit of electricity to keep their food cold. But even a plugged-in fridge, humming along and doing its job, can be a place that harbors pathogens that cause foodborne illness or spoilage organisms that result in food waste.

A little microbiology lesson might be helpful before we go on. When talking about food, food safety and safe food storage, we often discuss the microbes that can cause foodborne illness. Especially we talk about how to prevent or eliminate them from our food or food preparation areas. The foodborne microorganisms that cause illness are called pathogens. Certain strains of bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and Staphylococcus are pathogens—they can cause foodborne illness. Some viruses and parasites can be the source of foodborne illness as well.

Other microorganisms may cause food to spoil. Spoilage organisms are generally not pathogenic.  Spoilage makes food unappetizing, so we are unlikely to eat it. But the slimy, discolored, smelly, or fermented foods that result from the action of spoilage organisms are not as apt to make us sick, though some molds produce toxins that do have serious health effects.

The “good” thing about spoilage organisms is that they tell us that they are there. They make food smell funny or look weird. They turn food odd colors (cottage cheese that looks pink) or make things fizzy (juice that is fermented). We know it is best not to eat them. Spoilage organisms, will grow or multiply quite well at colder temperatures. This is why milk can spoil, juice can ferment and cheese or fruit can get moldy in your refrigerator.

On the other hand, pathogens are quiet, invisible. We never know for sure if they are lurking in the lettuce or hanging out on the chicken. Therefore we must take special care to prevent their growth or their spread to other foods or food-contact surfaces. We must assume that they are always there and do our best to control them.

Generally speaking, pathogens do not grow well in refrigerator temperatures. They prefer what we call the “danger zone” of approximately 41 degrees F to 135 degrees F. This is why it is recommended that you keep your refrigerator temperature at no more than 40 degrees F. If E. coli, Salmonella or other pathogens contaminate your food before you refrigerate it, these microbes will remain on the food. Refrigeration does not kill them, though it does limit their growth. One exception to this is Listeria. This bacteria actually likes the cold and can grow in temperatures as low as 32-45 degrees F.

Clean your fridge regularly

The best way to keep your refrigerator from being the source of a bout with foodborne illness is to keep it clean. A 2013 study of home kitchen environments conducted by the NSF, an organization that sets standards for cleanability of commercial food equipment, found that two of the “germiest” areas in the kitchen were the meat and vegetable bins in the home refrigerator.  They found Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, yeast, and mold.

Prevention of messes is the first step to a clean refrigerator. When storing raw meat, poultry, or fish, be sure to separate them from other foods. Store them in a way that prevents juices from contaminating other foods or refrigerator shelves—place them on a plate or tray. Store fresh raw fruits or vegetables loosely in plastic bags or storage containers. Often it makes sense not to wash fresh produce until you are ready to use it, so it is especially important to keep fresh produce in the fruit and vegetable bin if possible. Keep eggs in their original carton. Leftovers should be refrigerated in closed containers, date labeled, so that they are used before spoilage organisms set up shop. If you have a leaky milk carton, put a plate under it.

If spills do occur, wipe them up immediately. If meat, poultry or fish juices contaminate a ready to eat food (lettuce, cut fruit, cheese), it is best to toss it.

A least weekly—maybe the night before garbage pickup–go through your fridge and throw out any perishable foods that are past their prime. Check dates on milk, yogurt and soft cheeses. They generally are best if used by 5-7 days after the “use by” date. Toss anything that is moldy, slimy, or just looks or smells spoiled. Take a look at your leftovers: generally, leftovers should be kept no longer than 3-5 days. Throw out those that have been there too long.

A thorough, deep cleaning should be done monthly.

  • Empty the food out of the refrigerator. In summer months, it may make sense to put some things in a cooler with ice—especially raw meat, fish, cut fruits or vegetables, and leftovers.
  • Take out shelving, drawers, and any other removable parts.
  • Wash shelving, drawers, and any other removable parts by hand with warm, soapy water. Dry with a CLEAN towel. (Air drying is preferable, but you want to get this job done quickly and get food back into the refrigerator within an hour or so.)
  • Wipe the inside of the empty refrigerator with warm, soapy water, then wipe with clean water to rinse off soap. Dry with a clean towel.
  • If you want to, mix one tablespoon of liquid household bleach (unscented) with a gallon of water and wipe the interior and any shelving with this sanitizing solution. Always clean first, then sanitize. Allow to air dry. Sanitizing alone will not be effective.
  • Finally, as you place items back in the refrigerator, take time to wipe off container surfaces.
  • Wipe off door handles and be sure, if you have a water/ice dispenser on the outside of your fridge, to clean that as well.

For more information about safe food preparation and storage check out our website at www.foodsafety.uconn.edu or contact the Home and Garden Education Center at www.ladybug.uconn.edu.

Storage Times For Refrigerated Foods (www.fsis.usda.gov)
NOTE: These short but safe time limits will help keep home-refrigerated food from spoiling.

food storage times

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If Your Private Well Has Been Flooded…

by Catherine Magliocchetti

EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region is home to millions of residents who rely upon private wells for their drinking water supply.  As local conditions and weather may present the prospect of moderate and major flood conditions for many of our communities, owners of private wells are reminded to take the following actions:

If a well has been flooded (i.e., if flood waters have surrounded and/or submerged your well head):

  1. Do not drink or wash with the water until the well has been serviced, disinfected and confirmed safe.
  2. Avoid electrical shock – stay away from the well pump and turn off the well pump circuit breaker.
  3. Contact your local health department or other local officials for recommendations on how to test and confirm that flood hazards have been resolved.  Local government offices can often assist homeowners in finding certified laboratory resources, especially for bacterial testing, which is anticipated following flood events.  Local officials may also be able to advise if other parameters should be investigated, following a flood event (e.g., agricultural areas may want to test for the presence of fertilizers or pesticides.
  4. Seek a qualified well contractor or pump installer to assist with the following:
  • Clean, dry and re-establish electrical service to the pump.
  • Disinfect and flush the well to remove any contamination that entered during the flood.
  • Perform any other necessary maintenance so that your well pump can return to service.  Note that excess sediment in water can cause pump damage and even failure, so use of professional contractors is recommended for assessment and correction of pump function.

As a private well owner, you likely also have an on-lot septic system, which may also have been impacted by flood waters.  Keep in mind that flood events will impact your septic drainfield, and could also potentially damage pumps or other parts of your septic system.

Faulty septic systems and drainfields can negatively impact your well water quality down the road, so have your septic system evaluated by a professional following a flood, to ensure normal operation has returned.

For more information, watch this video on well flooding from the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

 

About the Author: Cathy Magliocchetti has been with EPA Region III for more than two decades.  She currently works on wellhead and source protection of drinking water.   She is a certified Penn State Master Well Owner and a member of her local environmental advisory council.

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Gender and sex inequalities in water, sanitation, and hygiene

This blogpost is part of a series of thematic blogs for the World Bank’s Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Poverty Diagnostic.

Woman carries water containers near polluted stream and water pipe in Maputo, Mozambique

Addressing gender and sex inequalities in WASH is not only recognized in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 and 6, it is central to the entire ambition of the SDGs themselves. Some water, sanitation, and hygiene issues are faced only by women because of their biological sex, whereas others are more influenced by gendered societal norms. To truly leave no one behind, we need to be mindful of and work against gender and sex inequalities in all development work. 
 
New World Bank research is a valuable contribution to doing just that.  ‘Reducing Inequalities in Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene in the Era of the Sustainable Development Goals’ reveals that a drastic change is required in the way countries manage resources and provide key services, starting with better targeting to ensure they reach those most in need.  In many cases, this means women and girls. 

We have looked at how the 18 countries’ diagnostics characterized gender and sex inequalities related to WASH, and draw out examples here. Following a recent World Bank report on water and gender, we similarly note in which stage of a woman’s life inequality begins. We found that:
 
Where water is not available on premises, females are far more likely globally to bear the burden of collection. In such contexts, they face additional obstacles to participation in schools, workplaces, and other social spaces, and drudgery and physical impact increases. While this tendency is well understood, the country studies offer some updated evidence. For example, in Tajikistan, local leaders and representatives of local government stated that women and children fall ill in winter when they carry heavy buckets of water in the cold. For 78% of households in Tajikistan without water on premises, responsibility for fetching water falls on females (see infographic).
 
Infographic: 78% of households in Tajikistan without drinking water on premises rely on females for collection.

Starting in school years, lack of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) facilities poses additional obstacles to females’ participation.  In Panama, this is considered a likely reason behind the finding that girls in sixth grade are between 6 and 10 percentage points more likely to have missed at least one day of school during the past six months, compared to boys of the same age and girls three years younger. In Tajikistan, only 1% of schools have covered bins for disposal of menstrual hygiene waste.
 
Having babies brings additional health risks to women, exacerbated by low levels of access to WASH. Unhygienic delivery and postnatal care often means illness and death for mothers and children. Mozambique’s country report contextualizes how critical it is that approximately 80 percent of existing health centers lack water or electricity. The Guatemala case study explains how lack of WASH means expectant mothers lack sufficient nutrition.  This leads to smaller babies who are more likely to fall sick, contributing to an inter-generational cycle of hardship and poverty. The Bangladesh report explains how diarrhea and other illness among children due to poor WASH also impacts the wellbeing of the caregiver (generally the mother) because of more time-consuming and worrisome care for the children. 
 
These are just some of the insights from the country reports.  A number of them are available here. Others will become available soon. Meanwhile, we would be interested to learn if this information is useful to your work, and invite you to check back here for more blogs highlighting thematic threads across the country reports. Please leave any questions or reflections in the comments section below

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Guide to Emergency Preparedness

By Katy Davis

guide coverDid you know that September is National Preparedness Month? The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health has issued the Connecticut Guide to Emergency Preparedness, with tons of information so you can prepared during an emergency.

Also, The Connecticut Guide to Emergency Preparedness has come out in ten different languages! Those languages are English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Polish, Russian, and Vietnamese. Inside the guide is a lot of useful information for any case of an emergency. There are different areas of emergencies such as natural disasters, pandemic flu, nuclear emergencies and even drinking water emergencies. There is also a chapter on what to do if you are in an emergency situation. The Connecticut Guide to Emergency Preparedness (in all ten languages) can be found at this link: http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3115&q=482616

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BlueScope Water Tanks Sponsor’s Josh’s House

BlueScope Water Tanks is a proud industry partner of Josh’s House, an ambitious and innovative housing project, for the design and construction of two 10 star energy efficient family homes in the Fremantle suburb of Hilton. It was a pleasure to participate in the Industry Partner Launch of the project this morning and to view

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