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Archive for the ‘Consumer Health’ Category

Tox Town Updates the Farm Scene!

If you are looking for possible environmental health risks in a typical farm or need information on agricultural runoff, feeding operations, or barns and silos, check out the newly updated Tox Town Farm scene. The Farm joins previously updated City, Town and Southwest scenes with an updated, photorealistic look to allow users to better identify with real-life locations. Each scene was also moved from Flash to HTML 5 platform, to allow viewing on a variety of personal electronic devices, including iPads, iPad minis, and tablets. All location and chemical information remains the same.

AHRQ Report Shows Gains in Access to and Affordability of Health Insurance

More people have health care coverage, have a usual place to go for medical care and can more easily afford medical bills after the Affordable Care Act’s provisions have taken effect, according to a new report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report and 5th Anniversary Update on the National Quality Strategy. The report finds that the rate of uninsured Americans under age 65 decreased from 18% to 10%. For 18- to 29-year-olds, the uninsured rate declined even further, falling by more than half, from 31% to 15%. Among poor people ages 18-64, the uninsured rate fell from 44% to 25%. Substantial gains in health care coverage also were found for Hispanic and black adults ages 18-64. The cost of health care coverage also became more affordable as fewer people overall reported having trouble paying medical bills within the past year. Poor people (below the federal poverty level) ages 18-64 saw the greatest benefit, and all racial and ethnic groups showed a decline in payment problems during this period.

The report features annual trends on more than 250 measures of care quality, access and disparities that cover a broad array of health care services and settings. Overall, the report shows that quality of care is improving, particularly in hospitals, and for measures that are being publicly reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. However, quality of care is still less than optimal overall for many Americans. Disparities related to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status continue to impact the care that many people receive. For example, the quality of care for blacks, Hispanics and American Indians and Alaska Natives was worse than that for whites for about 40% of the report’s measures.

May 2-6 Is Air Quality Awareness Week

Air Quality Awareness Week (May 2 – 6) explores the connections between exposure to pollutants and human health. The National Library of Medicine offers several resources on air quality. The NLM Enviro-Health Links pages on Indoor Air and Outdoor Air are information guides linking to sites that have been reviewed for appropriate and trustworthy material. They provide background information, connections to laws and regulations, and pre-formulated searches of relevant National Library of Medicine databases. Indoor Air covers mold, radon and flame retardants, as well as second-hand and third-hand smoke. Outdoor Air covers common particulate matter and common air pollutant chemicals.

Asthma and other airway diseases can sometimes be caused by workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals. NLM’s Haz-Map offers information related to Occupational Asthma which examines symptoms, findings, and the job tasks or chemical agents most associated with occupational asthma. NLM’s Environmental Health Student Portal contains Air Pollution information for middle school students and teachers. The portal has videos, classroom activities and links to age appropriate sites for further exploration. NLM’s Tox Town, the interactive web site on community environmental health concerns, has non-technical information on indoor air and on outdoor air.

Hepatitis Awareness Month and NLM Resources

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) provides a number of resources to learn about hepatitis, a dangerous inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. The Outreach and Special Populations Branch (OSPB) at NLM also offers information on hepatitis for specific populations, such as Asian Americans and individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Available resources include the following:

May 2016 Issue of NIH News in Health Now Available!

Silhouettes of a man and a woman showing the XY symbol next to the male and XX next to the maleCheck out the May issue of NIH News in Health, the monthly newsletter bringing you practical health news and tips based on the latest NIH research. In this issue:

  • Sex and Gender
    Men and women are similar in many ways, but sex and social factors can affect your risk for disease, your response to medications, and how often you seek medical care.
  • Going Gluten Free?
    With the growing popularity of gluten-free products at your local grocery store, you may have wondered if you should avoid eating gluten. Sidestepping gluten can be a lifestyle choice for many. But for those with a condition known as celiac disease, it’s a medical necessity.
  • Researchers Examine the Structure of Zika Virus
    Scientists found a structural detail on the surface of the Zika virus that distinguishes it from similar viruses. Continuing to study this tiny difference might help researchers develop targeted therapies and better ways to diagnose Zika infections.
  • Featured Website: Education: Biomedical Imaging & Bioengineering
    Learn how fingers might be regrown, people with paralysis can stand, and what an MRI image of your brain looks like. You can play games, take quizzes, and explore interactive graphics on this science education website as you learn all about bioengineering and the cool medical technology now being developed at NIH.

NIH News in Health is available online in both HTML and PDF formats. Additionally, you can get trusted, up-to-date health information from NIH News in Health added directly to your site via NIH content syndication. Print copies are available free of charge for offices, clinics, community centers, and libraries within the U.S. Visit the NIH News in Health Facebook page to suggest topics you’d like to see covered, or share what you find helpful about the newsletter!

AHRQ Issues New Comparative Effectiveness Review!

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare, Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently released its Comparative Effectiveness Review Improving Cultural Competence to Reduce Health Disparities for Priority Populations. This review examines existing system-, clinic-, provider-, and individual-level interventions to improve culturally appropriate health care for people with disabilities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations; and racial/ethnic minority populations.

The National Library of Medicine’s Outreach and Special Populations Branch (OSPB) works to reduce health disparities within underserved and special populations by improving access to accurate, quality health information. OSPB manages Minority Health Information Outreach projects for specific populations, such as American Indian Health Web Portal for Native Americans and HealthReach for refugee populations.

NLM’s Genetics Home Reference Gets a New Look for DNA Day!

Launched by the National Library of Medicine in 2003, Genetics Home Reference, the Web site for consumer-friendly information about the effects of genetic variation on human health, has undergone a major makeover. The new site became available on April 25, which is DNA Day and the 13th anniversary of Genetics Home Reference. Designed for patients, their families, and others with an interest in human genetics, Genetics Home Reference currently offers Web pages about more than 1,100 health conditions and diseases, more than 1,300 genes, all of the human chromosomes, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). It also includes a richly illustrated genetics primer, Help Me Understand Genetics, which offers a basic explanation of how genes work and how mutations cause disorders. In addition, the site includes current information about genetic testing, gene therapy, genetics research, and precision medicine. Genetics Home Reference has proved to be a trusted and widely searched source of information, with on average about 1.5 million visitors and 3.6 million page views each month.

The Genetics Home Reference redesign is based on feedback from an online customer satisfaction survey, with comments collected since November 2014. The most frequent suggestions for improvement include adding more images, updating the site’s look and feel, and changing the font. These and other comments have been addressed, and features of the redesigned site include:

  • A redesigned home page for enhanced usability
  • Colors and icons that help distinguish the Web site’s different content areas
  • A dynamic list of new and updated content on the Web site
  • Streamlined navigation of health condition, gene, and chromosome pages, to make it easier to find information of interest
  • In-text links that improve navigation between related topics on Genetics Home Reference
  • Educational images from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other sources integrated into health condition summaries
  • Improved browser printing
  • Acknowledgment of more than 200 support and advocacy groups for their feedback on Web site content
  • Improved usability on mobile devices (mobile-responsive design)

To learn more, visit this NLM in Focus article and interview with Stephanie M. Morrison, MPH, coordinator of the site.

TOXMAP now includes 2014 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Data

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) TOXMAP resource now includes the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) 2014 National Analysis. TOXMAP maps the TRI chemicals reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). A complete list of EPA TRI chemicals required to be reported is also available.

NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine Spring 2016 Issue Available Online!

cover of medlineplus magazine april 2016 issueThe Spring 2016 issue of NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine features topics including women and heart disease, health disparities, robotic innovations, drug-induced hearing loss, rare diseases, and fibromyalgia. The cover features Ta’Rhonda Jones, star of Fox TV’s Empire, who shares her message about cardiovascular disease among women. She describes her experience with a heart condition and her involvement in the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement and Red Dress Collection.

The issue also features an article about NIH’s efforts in improving minority health and reducing health disparities. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, explains the major health challenges facing minorities in the U.S. today. Dr. Pérez-Stable discusses establishing a robust research program in the health care setting where disparities may be reduced, improving cross-cultural communication between patients and health professionals, and promoting diversity in clinical research by including all minorities in both therapeutic trials and observational studies.

NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine is the free, trusted consumer guide to the vast array of authoritative online health and medical information in MedlinePlus. Published four times a year, the magazine showcases the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) latest medical research and healthcare information. NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine is freely available as a print subscription, e-mail alerts, and online.

Earth Day 2016 & NLM Environmental Health Resources

The health of the natural environment and human health are intrinsically linked, which is highlighted on April 22, Earth Day. The Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) offers a variety of resources to help Americans of all ages and backgrounds learn about the importance of environmental health:

  • Environmental Health for Children: Kids in grades 1-5 can learn about toxic substances in the home through the interactive ToxMystery. Middle schoolers can explore toxic substances in everyday environments through Tox Town, and they can learn about air pollution, chemicals, climate change, and water pollution through the Environmental Health Student Portal. Read about additional NLM resources for teachers and students that can be used for Earth Day Education.
  • Environmental Health for Indigenous Communities: Native American communities can find links to environmental health resources on American Indian Health. Information on the impacts of climate change on Arctic communities can be found at Arctic Health.
  • Environmental Hazards in Daily Life: Use the TOXNET collection of databases to explore the impact of toxic substances on your health. Check Haz-Map to learn about environmental hazards in the work environment, use LactMed to identify substances which nursing mothers should avoid, and use Household Products Database to learn about the health effects of common household chemicals.

Explore the Environmental Health and Toxicology homepage on the NLM website for more valuable environmental health resources.