Sunday, January 23, 2022

You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

"You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do seek prompt medical help if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
  • Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Use an extension cord that is more than 20 feet long to keep the generator at a safe distance..."
    Carbon Monoxide
     

Friday, January 21, 2022

Top 5 things to remember when filing income tax returns in 2022

"With filing season beginning January 24, the Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers about several key items to keep in mind when filing their federal income tax returns this year.

Given the unprecedented circumstances around the pandemic and unique challenges for this tax season, the IRS offers a 5-point checklist that can help many people speed tax return processing and refund delivery while avoiding delays.

1. File an accurate return and use e-file and direct deposit to avoid delays. Taxpayers should electronically file and choose direct deposit as soon as they have everything they need to file an accurate return. Taxpayers have many choices, including using a trusted tax professional. For those using e-file, the software helps individuals avoid mistakes by doing the math. It guides people through each section of their tax return using a question-and-answer format.

2. For an accurate return, collect all documents before preparing a tax return; make sure stimulus payment and advance Child Tax Credit information is accurate. In addition to collecting W-2s, Form 1099s and other income-related statements, it is important people have their advance Child Tax Credit and Economic Impact Payment information on hand when filing.

  • Advance CTC letter 6419: In late December 2021, and continuing into January, the IRS started sending letters to people who received advance CTC payments. The letter says, "2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) Payments" near the top and, "Letter 6419" on the bottom righthand side of the page. Here's what people need to know:
    • The letter contains important information that can help ensure the tax return is accurate.
    • People who received advance CTC payments can also check the amount of the payments they received by using the CTC Update Portal available on IRS.gov.
    • Eligible taxpayers who received advance Child Tax Credit payments should file a 2021 tax return to receive the second half of the credit. Eligible taxpayers who did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments can claim the full credit by filing a tax return.
  • Third Economic Impact Payment letter 6475: In late January 2022, the IRS will begin issuing letters to people who received a third payment in late January 2021. The letter says, "Your Third Economic Impact Payment" near the top and, "Letter 6475" on the bottom righthand side of the page. Here's what people need to know:
    • Most eligible people already received their stimulus payments. This letter will help individuals determine if they are eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) for missing stimulus payments.
    • People who are eligible for RRC must file a 2021 tax return to claim their remaining stimulus amount.
    • People can also use IRS online account to view their Economic Impact Payment amounts.

Both letters – 6419 and 6475 – include important information that can help people file an accurate 2021 tax return. If a return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review while the IRS corrects the error, which may slow the tax refund. Using this information when preparing a tax return electronically can reduce errors and avoid delays in processing.

3. Avoid lengthy phone delays; use online resources before calling the IRS. Phone demand on IRS assistance lines remains at record highs. To avoid lengthy delays, the IRS urges people to use IRS.gov to get answers to tax questions, check a refund status or pay taxes. There's no wait time or appointment needed — online tools and resources are available 24 hours a day.

Additionally, the IRS has several ways for taxpayers to stay up to date on important tax information:

Thursday, January 20, 2022

6 Tips to Stay Active This Winter

"Whether indoors or outdoors, be as active as you can—and have fun!

The winter season can be a challenging time to stay active, with colder temperatures, slippery conditions, and fewer daylight hours. But staying physically active is one of the best ways to improve your mental and physical health and keep yourself on track to reach your fitness goals. Physical activity can help you sleep better and reduce anxiety. Regular physical activity also helps you feel better, improve your balance, lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and many kinds of cancer, strengthen bones and muscles, lower blood pressure, maintain or lose weight, and keep your mind sharp as you get older. Emerging research also suggests physical activity may help boost your immune function.

Experts recommendexternal icon adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity. Many activities count, such as walking, running, or wheelchair rolling. You can break that up into smaller chunks of time or spread your activity out during the week. Try 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. It all counts. Get started today with our 6 tips to stay active all winter long.

1. Take nature walks.

Weather permitting, schedule time during the day to enjoy nature. Take a stroll around a safe neighborhood or park.

2. Monitor the weather and plan ahead.

Weather forecasts give several days’ notice to prepare your week. Be sure to monitor the weather, dress appropriately, and plan your winter activity accordingly.

3. Wear layers.

Wear several layers of comfortable clothing so that items can be removed easily as you become warmer. Layers will help you guard against overheating, sweating, and eventually becoming colder.

4. Workout online.

Consider tuning into a TV, online, live Zoom, or Instagram workout class. Find free or low-cost exercise videos online to help you do aerobics, dance, stretch, and build strength.

5. Do some chores.

When bad weather keeps you from going outside, look for ways to be physically active indoors. Housework such as vacuuming, sweeping, and cleaning all count towards your physical activity goals. And you’ll knock out some items on your to-do list while gaining health benefits. Walking or running up and down stairs in your home can be a great workout, too.

6. Volunteer in active ways while maintaining social distance.

Help others while helping yourself. Look for volunteer opportunities that involve physical activity such as walking dogs for elderly neighbors or shoveling snow. When volunteering, remember to follow social distancing recommendations to keep yourself and others safe.."
Winter activity 

Now Is the Time to Stop Drug Overdose Deaths

"In the United States, drug overdoses have claimed over 932,000 lives over the past 21 years, and the drug overdose crisis continues to worsen. In 2020, the rate of drug overdose deaths accelerated and increased 31% from the year before. Synthetic opioids, such as illicitly manufactured fentanyl, continue to contribute to the majority of opioid-involved overdose deaths.

To save lives from drug overdose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched four education campaigns to reach young adults (ages 18-34) who use drugs. The campaigns provide information that can save the lives of people who use drugs or are struggling with substance use disorders and highlight actions the public can take to help prevent overdose.

Specifically, the campaigns provide critical information about these topics:

More about CDC’s education campaigns to stop drug overdoses:

The Dangers of Fentanyl

Fentanyl’s increased presence in the drug supply is a key contributor to the increase in overdose deaths. Fentanyl can be up to 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine, so even small amounts of fentanyl can cause an overdose.

Many illegal drugs, including counterfeit prescription opioid pills, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy, can be mixed or laced with fentanyl with or without a person’s knowledge, as they would not be able to see, taste, or smell the fentanyl.

CDC’s campaign on fentanyl provides information about:

  • Illicitly manufactured fentanyl
  • Dangers of fentanyl
  • Fentanyl’s roles in overdoses in the United States

To learn more about CDC’s campaign on fentanyl, visit Fentanyl Facts.

Risks of Polysubstance Use

People who use drugs may use multiple substances together or within a short time period. The use of more than one drug, also known as polysubstance use, is common and can be intentional or unintentional. Whether intentional or not, mixing drugs is never safe because the effects from combining drugs may be stronger and more unpredictable than those of one drug alone and can even be deadly.

For example, mixing stimulants—like ecstasy and cocaine—increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, while mixing opioids with other depressants—like benzodiazepines (“benzos”) and/or alcohol—can slow breathing, which could lead to severe brain damage or death

CDC’s campaign on polysubstance use provides information about:

  • The dangers of polysubstance use
  • What to do if you think someone is overdosing

To learn more about CDC’s campaign on polysubstance use, visit Polysubstance Use Facts.

Reversing Opioid Overdoses with Naloxone

Naloxone is a nonaddictive medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose if administered in time. Carrying naloxone and using it on someone who is overdosing on opioids could immediately help save a life. One study found that in most cases of overdose deaths, a bystander was nearby who could have helped prevent the death.

In most states, Good Samaritan lawsexternal icon to protect those who are overdosing and anyone assisting them in an emergency from arrest and criminal prosecution on drug-related charges. Naloxone is available in all 50 states; Puerto Rico; and Washington, DC, and often without a prescription.

CDC’s campaign on naloxone provides information about:

  • The lifesaving benefits of naloxone
  • How to use naloxone
  • Who should carry naloxone
  • Naloxone availability in the United States.."
    Overdose deaths
     

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Fiber: The Carb That Helps You Manage Diabetes

"Fiber is part of a healthy diet and can provide a range of health benefits. It can be especially important in preventing or managing diabetes. Learn more about the surprising role of fiber.

We all need fiber to keep our internal plumbing humming like a fine-tuned engine. But most US adults  only get about half the fiber they need each day. You wouldn’t skip out on maintaining your car with the necessary gasoline and oil, right? Then why do it to your body?

Here’s the scoop. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It helps keep you regular, but it offers many other health benefits as well, especially for people with diabetes or prediabetes.

Health Benefits of Fiber

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, fiber is your friend because it helps with blood sugar control and weight management. It can also lower your risk of heart disease and some cancers. Specifically, fiber can help:

  • Control your blood sugar. Because the body is unable to absorb and break down fiber, it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar the way other carbohydrates can. This can help keep your blood sugar in your target range.
  • Protect your heart. Fiber prevents your body from taking in some fat and cholesterol, lowering your triglyceride and cholesterol levels to help reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Maintain your digestive health. Fiber acts like a scrub brush, cleaning your digestive tract. It helps clean out bacteria and other buildup to improve gut health and help reduce your risk of colon cancer.
  • Keep you feeling full and help with weight management. Since fiber can’t be digested, it moves slowly through the stomach, making you feel fuller for longer. And many foods high in fiber tend to be low in calories, which can help with weight loss.

Types of Fiber

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Each has important health benefits and plays a different role in the body.

  • Soluble fiber. This type dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in your stomach, slowing down digestion. It helps control your blood sugar and cholesterol, which can help prevent or manage diabetes complications. Soluble fiber is found in apples, bananas, oats, peas, black beans, lima beans, Brussels sprouts, and avocados.
  • Insoluble fiber. This type does not dissolve in water and typically remains whole as it passes through your stomach. It supports insulin sensitivity and helps keep your bowels healthy to keep you regular. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat flour, bran, nuts, seeds, and the skins of many fruits and vegetables.

Ways to Add More Fiber to Your Diet

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 recommends that adults eat 22 to 34 grams of fiber each day, the specific amount will depend on your age and sex. You may ask yourself, “So how much is 22 to 34 grams of fiber?” Well, think about it this way, 30 grams of fiber would be like eating about six apples a day. And although apples are a great source of fiber, eating six a day is not recommended or necessary. Instead, spread your fiber intake among different foods throughout the day. You can:

  • Have a fiber-friendly breakfast. Try avocado toast topped with chickpeas, or make a bowl of oatmeal with nuts and berries.
  • Choose whole grains. Look for bread that lists whole grain flour as the first ingredient. Swap out white rice for brown rice or quinoa. Try whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta.
  • Focus on non-starchy vegetables. Start dinners with a salad. Or, add spinach, broccoli, or a bag of frozen mixed vegetables to your meals for a fiber boost.
  • Add beans or other legumes. Try adding legumes such as lentils and peas or different kinds of beans (pinto, kidney, lima, navy, garbanzo) to salads, soups, stews, or casseroles. Or you can puree legumes to make dips and spreads.
  • Snack on fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Choose fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, bananas, or baby carrots to snack on. Keep almonds, sunflower seeds, and pistachios handy for a quick fiber-friendly snack.

Just remember to take it slow by adding a bit more fiber every few days. A sudden increase in fiber can lead to uncomfortable digestive problems such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or cramps. Drink plenty of water to help food move easily through your system.."
Fiber 

Monday, January 17, 2022

How to tell if your N95 Respirator is NIOSH Approved

"Defining “NIOSH Approved”


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the federal agency responsible for testing and approving respirators used in U.S. workplace settings.

A NIOSH-approved N95 is the most common type of filtering facepiece respirator (FFR), which is a type of disposable respirator meant to form a tight seal to the face, removing particles from the air as you breathe through it. This includes all types of particles, such as bacteria, viruses, and dust. When used in an occupational setting, NIOSH-approved respirators, including N95s, are meant to be used as part of a workplace’s respiratory protection program. These programs are regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and must include specific elements such as medical evaluations, fit testing, and training. If your respirator has been approved by NIOSH, you can be confident that it is working as expected to protect you as long as:

• It is properly maintained
• It is worn and used correctly
• It fits properly
• It is replaced as recommended by the manufacturer

NIOSH only approves respirators that pass its strict quality assurance and performance requirements. As part of these tests, NIOSH uses a near worst-case penetrating aerosol size (i.e., particles that are best able to make it through a filter), and an N95 respirator must not allow more than 5% of these particles to penetrate through. This ensures that every respirator that passes these tests will filter potentially hazardous particles as expected when used in real-world situations.

How to tell if an N95 is NIOSH Approved

The easiest way to tell if your N95 is NIOSH approved is to search for it on the NIOSHCertified Equipment List (CEL). All NIOSHapproved respirators have a testing and certification (TC) approval number (e.g., TC 84A-XXXX), which must be printed on the respirator. The CEL has an option to search by the TC approval number, which will also help identify any private labels (alternate brand names) associated with that approval number. If you search a NIOSH TC approval number and no results are found within the CEL, that means it is not a valid NIOSH approval number and the product is not NIOSH approved. NIOSH also provides frequently updated lists of all approved FFRs by type (including N95s) and model/part numbers, which include the manufacturer’s instructions describing how to put the respirator on correctly.

Additionally, respirators that have earned NIOSH approval will have specific labeling printed on the facepiece. You may see some respirators on the market labeled as “N95,” but if a respirator does not contain all of the components of the required label, it is not a NIOSH-approved respirator and, therefore, cannot be relied on to provide the same level of respiratory protection..."
N95 mask approval 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Types of Masks and Respirators, January 14, 2022

"Summary of Recent Changes

  • Added information to present similar content for masks and respirators
  • Clarified that people can choose respirators such as N95s and KN95s, including removing concerns related to supply shortages for N95s
  • Clarified that “surgical N95s” are a specific type of respirator that should be reserved for healthcare settings
  • Clarified that some types of masks and respirators provide more protection to the wearer than others

View Previous Updates

Key Messages:

  • Masking is a critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask.
  • To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
  • Masks and respirators are effective at reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, when worn consistently and correctly.
  • Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and some may be harder to tolerate or wear consistently than others. It is most important to wear a well-fitted mask or respirator correctly that is comfortable for you and that provides good protection.
  • While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection. Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease.
  • CDC’s mask recommendations provide information that people can use to improve how well their masks protect them.

This page describes different types of masks and respirators that you can use to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading COVID-19. Masks and respirators can provide varying degrees of protection, with well-fitting National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirators offering the most protection. Masking is a critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask.  This page presents options in order of least to most protective. To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.

Types of Masks and Respirators

Masks are made to contain droplets and particles you breathe, cough, or sneeze out. If they fit closely to the face, they can also provide you some protection from particles spread by others, including the virus that causes COVID-19.

Respirators are made to protect you by filtering the air and fitting closely on the face to filter out particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19. They can also contain droplets and particles you breathe, cough, or sneeze out so you do not spread them to others.

Choosing a Mask or Respirator for Different Situations

Masks and respirators (i.e., specialized filtering masks such as “N95s”) can provide different levels of protection depending on the type of mask and how they are used. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.

Whatever product you choose, it should provide a good fit (i.e., fitting closely on the face without any gaps along the edges or around the nose) and be comfortable enough when worn properly (covering your nose and mouth) so that you can keep it on when you need to. Learn how to improve how well your mask protects you by visiting CDC’s Improve How Your Mask Protects You page.

A respirator has better filtration, and if worn properly the whole time it is in use, can provide a higher level of protection than a cloth or procedural mask. A mask or respirator will be less effective if it fits poorly or if you wear it improperly or take it off frequently. A respirator may be considered in certain situations and by certain people when greater protection is needed or desired.

*Note: The options listed on this page may be used to fulfill the requirements of CDC’s Mask Order for public transportation. Learn more about attributes of masks needed to fulfill the requirements of the Order at this website.

Masks

When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Gaps can be caused by choosing the wrong size or type of mask and when a mask is worn with facial hair.

It is important to check that it fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin.

  • Check for gaps by cupping your hands around the outside edges of the mask.
  • Make sure no air is flowing from the area near your eyes or from the sides of the mask.
  • If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.

Cloth Masks

Cloth Masks can be made from a variety of fabrics and many types of cloth masks are available.

Wear cloth masks with

  • A proper fit over your nose, mouth, and chin to prevent leaks
  • Multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric
  • Nose wire
  • Fabric that blocks light when held up to bright light source
mask considerations tightly woven

Do NOT wear cloth masks with

  • Gaps around the sides of the face or nose
  • Exhalation valves, vents, or other openings (see example)
  • Single-layer fabric or those made of thin fabric that don’t block light
  • Wet or dirty material.

    Procedure Masks

    Disposable procedure masks are widely available. They are sometimes referred to as surgical masks or medical procedure masks.

    Wear procedure masks with

    • A proper fit over your nose, mouth, and chin to prevent leaks
    • Multiple layers of non-woven material
    • A nose wire
    Disposable masks are widely available.

    Do NOT wear procedure masks with

    • Gaps around the sides of the face or nose (see example)
    • Wet or dirty material.."
      Face masks
       

Monday, January 10, 2022

Release of the PFAS Sites and Community Resources Map

[PFAS Project Lab. Northeastern University]
 "A new online map launched this week brings together information about known and suspected PFAS contamination sites across the United States with resources for affected communities and information about state action. This unique and interactive tool, called the PFAS Sites and Community Resources Map, was developed by the PFAS Project Lab at Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Institute (SSEHRI), Silent Spring Institute, and the PFAS-REACH team. This map is a new and improved version of the Community Resources map previously available on the PFAS Exchange website.

The PFAS Sites and Community Resources Map identifies 1,781 known sites of PFAS contamination based on the PFAS Project Lab’s PFAS Contamination Site Database. Additionally, we have identified 57,806 sites that are suspected of being contaminated, including current and former military sites, airports required to use PFAS-containing firefighting foam, industrial facilities, wastewater treatment plants, and railroad fire incidents. 

“This map brings together what we now know as all of the known and suspected sites of PFAS contamination in the U.S.,” says Dr. Phil Brown, co-director of the PFAS Project Lab co-director and Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University. “This truly paints a visual picture of how widespread PFAS contamination is across the country and how many communities are likely impacted,” adds Dr. Alissa Cordner, Associate Professor at Whitman College and co-director of the PFAS Project Lab.

In addition to mapping these known and suspected contamination locations, the map provides a nationwide portrait of PFAS advocacy groups, biomonitoring and health studies, and state action to show states that have enacted drinking water regulations and conducted PFAS testing. “We wanted to provide information not only on the extent of contamination in the U.S., but also highlight communities and states that are trying to do something about it,” says Dr. Laurel Schaider, Senior Scientist at Silent Spring Institute and lead investigator on PFAS-REACH. 

The map has interactive features that allow the user to explore more specific elements of contamination including detected PFAS levels and information about contamination at known sites, and details about types of facilities suspected of using or releasing PFAS in some way. The goal of this map is to educate and inform researchers, regulators, and community members to support the development of health-protective regulations, and to empower impacted communities to advocate for their health..."
PFAS Sites