Back-to-school preparedness tips

School’s back in session, so now’s a good time to brush up on ways to keep kids safe from disasters and other emergencies.

• Practice good hand hygiene: Teach your children to wash their hands after group activities and most importantly after using the restroom and before eating. The Get Ready campaign has great fact sheets about hand-washing that you and your kids can read together.

• Get a flu shot! Everyone ages 6 months and older should get a seasonal flu shot every year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Remember to stay home when you are sick to prevent spreading flu. While you’re at it, make sure that your children are up to date on all of their other shots. Be sure you’re immunized, too, so you don’t pass along diseases to young children. Adults should especially be sure to stay immunized against pertussis, also known as whooping cough, as they can transmit it to infants.

• Prepare for an emergency: Disasters can happen suddenly, meaning there is a chance you can get separated from your child during an emergency. As parents, it’s a good idea to learn about the emergency preparedness plans at your children’s schools and get involved in the planning process. Make sure your child knows his or her address, your emergency meeting place, the full names of parents or guardians and important phone numbers.

• Make getting prepared fun: The Get Ready campaign has free games and puzzles kids can play to learn about preparedness, as well as fact sheets written at their level. Great for use in classrooms as well!

For more information, check out and share our Get Ready parent’s page.
Thanks Emily
Here is Emily Stouts entry, another top 25 winner. Congratulations.
 It is beautiful and we are keeping our fingers crossed for her. 
Check out a few more entries on the Marcus Brothers blog

Health Advisory at Pattison Lake

This advisory has been lifted.

There is currently a health advisory for blue-green algaetoxicity on Pattison Lake. 

Residents and lake users are advised to:
  •         Avoid recreational contact with the lake.
  •         Keep pets out of the water.  
  •         If fishing, catch and release is the safest practice.

Preliminary results from a water sample collected on August 21 from a site off Atchinson Drive on the south basin of the lake show that the toxin, microcystin, is above the recreational advisory limit of 6 µg/L. The preliminary result reported is 16 µg/L.   

Thurston County Environmental Health requests that Pattison Lake volunteers post advisory signs at your community areas.  Thurston County Environmental Health will post signs at the public launch, and will monitor the lake weekly while the bloom is present. 

If you have questions, contact Cathy Hansen at (360) 867-2645.
Sweet Summertime
Summer is almost over and we have just completed our
first Summer Block of the Week. It was fun and I hope
everyone who participated enjoyed the project. If you missed
out the pattern is now available. This is a great project for all 
your favorite scraps. This project also uses 1 yard of Kona 
Natural for the background which you can find here
Also included is the acrylic template for the mini dresden plates.

More Thoughts on Cold Training: Biology Chimes In

Now that the concept of cold training for cold adaptation and fat loss has received scientific support, I've been thinking more about how to apply it.  A number of people have been practicing cold training for a long time, using various methods, most of which haven't been scientifically validated.  That doesn't mean the methods don't work (some of them probably do), but I don't know how far we can generalize individual results prior to seeing controlled studies.

The studies that were published two weeks ago used prolonged, mild cold exposure (60-63 F air) to achieve cold adaptation and fat loss (12).  We still don't know whether or not we would see the same outcome from short, intense cold exposure such as a cold shower or brief cold water plunge.  Also, the fat loss that occurred was modest (5%), and the subjects started off lean rather than overweight.  Normally, overweight people lose more fat than lean people given the same fat loss intervention, but this possibility remains untested.  So the current research leaves a lot of stones unturned, some of which are directly relevant to popular cold training concepts.

In my last post on brown fat, I mentioned that we already know a lot about how brown fat activity is regulated, and I touched briefly on a few key points.  As is often the case, understanding the underlying biology provides clues that may help us train more effectively.  Let's see what the biology has to say.

Biology of Temperature Regulation

Read more »
My quilt was chosen as one of the top 25 in the 
an antique row quilt that I thought would be perfect
to feature Judie Rothermel's 25th Anniversary Collection.
I am so excited as you can see and am keeping my fingers
crossed that it will be chosen as one of the top 3 prize winners.
- - - Here are a few more pictures - - -

More good news Linda's quilt was also chosen. She recreated
an antique crib quilt that has been on her to do list 
for a long time. I think it came out great. Good luck Linda.
Temecula Quilt Co sponsored one more top 25 Quilt
made by Emily. I will get a picture of it soon.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

The back-to-school rush is well underway. In fact, for some students, summer vacation is already over. With August observed as National Immunization Awareness Month, it’s a perfect time to think about vaccinations and remind family, friends and co-workers to catch up on their shots.

Immunizations save lives and protect communities. Thanks to vaccinations, many disease threats have been eliminated or greatly reduced in the United States.

Immunizations aren’t just for babies. In fact, they can help everyone protect themselves from serious diseases and illnesses. For example, young kids need shots to protect them against diseases such as polio and hepatitis, while older kids need immunizations for meningitis and HPV.

Access the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s immunization schedules to see which immunizations are right for you and your family.

For more information on immunizations, check out our Get Ready vaccination fact sheet. Also, download and share our vaccination fact sheets with information on kids, teens and adults.

Go Back to School with Safer Supplies

Parents and care givers are growing more concerned about the chemicals in products that may affect their children’s health.  As a place to start, we can make safer choices about what we provide our kids with for school.

One of the biggest chemical concerns in school supplies is a type of plastic made out of polyvinyl chloride or PVC.  According to the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, “PVC is unique among most plastics because it contains dangerous chemical additives such as phthalates, lead, cadmium and/or organotin, which can be toxic to your child’s health.”  Many of these chemicals have known health concerns or are considered chemicals of emerging concern.  Tests have shown that these chemicals can leach out of products over time and are linked to asthma, learning disabilities, obesity and other chronic health concerns. Avoid products that are labeled, “vinyl” or have a number three inside of the recycling arrow.  Number 3 plastics are made from PVC.

The good news is that once you know what to look for, finding safer school supplies can be easy. 

For any school supplies, if there are non-plastic options such as cloth art smocks and non-coated, plain metal paper clips to choose from, that is a good place to start.

  • Avoid lunchboxes that are shiny plastic or have shiny plastic characters because those are usually made from vinyl.  They may contain lead and unwrapped food should never be placed in them.  
  • Safer options: A re-useable cloth bag or light-weight stainless steel bento boxes, canisters, thermoses, and water bottles work great for lunch packing.  They are non-breakable, clean up well and don’t have the same health concerns as plastics.
  •  Safety Tip: Never microwave or wash plastics in the dishwasher, even if they claim to be microwavable and dishwasher safe.  Even storing hot or warm food in plastic containers has been shown to leach chemicals into the food.

  •  Safer Options: Fabric-covered and sturdy cardboard binders are two choices that are available at most stores.  Plastics other than PVC such as polypropelene are less-likely to leach chemicals and they usually say, PVC-freeon the label.

  • Avoid bags with shiny plastic decals.  The shiny plastic is PVC and may contain lead.  Remember that lead is a well-known neurotoxin and doesn’t belong in our children’s supplies!
  • Safer options: Bags without any plastic or shiny additions. A plain canvas backpack never goes out of style!

Start the new school year off right by choosing safer supplies to send your little (or big) one off safely.  For more information on safer school supplies The Center for Health, Environment and Justice has a Back to School Guide or see Thurston County Environmental Health’s web page on plastics.  A Thurston County Environmental Health Educator is always happy to answer questions at (360) 867-2674.  The TDD line is (360) 867-2603.

Reflections on the 2013 Ancestral Health Symposium

I just returned from the 2013 Ancestral Health Symposium in Atlanta.  Despite a few challenges with the audio/visual setup, I think it went well.

I arrived on Thursday evening, and so I missed a few talks that would have been interesting to attend, by Mel Konner, Nassim Taleb, Gad Saad, and Hamilton Stapell.  Dr. Konner is one of the progenitors of the modern Paleo movement.  Dr. Saad does interesting work on consummatory behavior, reward, and its possible evolutionary basis.  Dr. Stapell is a historian with an interest in the modern Paleo movement.  He got some heat for suggesting that the movement is unlikely to go truly mainstream, which I agree with.  I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with him and found him to be an interesting person.

On Friday, Chris Kresser gave a nice talk about the potential hidden costs of eradicating our intestinal parasites and inadvertently altering our gut flora.  Unfortunately it was concurrent with Chris Masterjohn so I'll have to watch his talk on fat-soluble vitamins when it's posted.  I spent most of the rest of the day practicing my talk.

On Saturday morning, I gave my talk "Insulin and Obesity: Reconciling Conflicting Evidence".  I think it went well, and the feedback overall was very positive, both on the content and the delivery.  The conference is fairly low-carb-centric and I know some people disagree with my perspective on insulin, and that's OK.   The-question-and-answer session after the talk was also productive, with some comments/questions from Andreas Eenfeldt and others.  With the completion of this talk, I've addressed the topic to my satisfaction and I don't expect to spend much more time on it unless important new data emerge.  The talk will be freely available online at some point, and I expect it to become a valuable resource for people who want to learn more about the relationship between insulin and obesity.  It should be accessible to anyone with a little bit of background in the subject, but it will also be informative to most researchers.

After my talk, I attended several other good presentations.  Dan Pardi gave a nice talk on the importance of sleep and the circadian rhythm, how it works, how the modern world disrupts it, and how to fix it.  The relationship between sleep and health is a very hot area of research right now, it fits seamlessly with the evolutionary perspective, and Pardi showed off his high level of expertise in the subject.  He included the results of an interesting sleep study he conducted as part of his doctoral work at Stanford, showing that sleep restriction makes us more likely to choose foods we perceive as unhealthy.

Sleep and the circadian rhythm was a recurrent theme at AHS13.  A lot of interesting research is emerging on sleep, body weight, and health, and the ancestral community has been quick to embrace this research and integrate it into the ancestral health template.  I think it's a big piece of the puzzle.

Jeff Rothschild gave a nice summary of the research on time-restricted feeding, body weight and health in animal models and humans.  Research in this area is expanding and the results are pretty interesting, suggesting that when you restrict a rodent's feeding window to the time of day when it would naturally consume food (rather than giving constant access during both day and night), it becomes more resistant to obesity even when exposed to a fattening diet.  Rothschild tied this concept together with circadian regulation in a compelling way.  Since food is one of the stimuli that sets the circadian clock, Rothschild proposes to eat when the sun is up, and not when it's down, synchronizing eating behavior with the natural seasonal light rhythm.  I think it's a great idea, although it wouldn't be practical for me to implement it currently.  Maybe someday if I have a more flexible schedule.  Rothschild is about to publish a review paper on this topic as part of his master's degree training, so keep your eyes peeled.

Kevin Boyd gave a very compelling talk about malocclusion (underdeveloped jaws and crowded teeth) and breathing problems, particularly those occurring during sleep.  Malocclusion is a modern epidemic with major health implications, as Dr. Boyd showed by his analysis of ancient vs. modern skulls.  The differences in palate development between our recent ancestors (less than 200 years ago) and modern humans are consistent and striking, as Weston Price also noted a century ago.  Dr. Boyd believes that changing infant feeding practices (primarily the replacement of breast feeding with bottle feeding) is the main responsible factor, due to the different mechanical stimulation it provides, and he's proposing to test that hypothesis using the tools of modern research.  He's presented his research at prestigious organizations and in high-impact scientific journals, so I think this idea may really be gaining traction.  Very exciting.

I was honored when Dr. Boyd told me that my 9-part series on malocclusion is what got him interested in this problem (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).  His research has of course taken it further than I did, and as a dentist his understanding of malocclusion is deeper than mine.  He's a middle-aged man who is going back to school to do this research, and his enthusiasm is palpable.  Robert Corruccini, a quality anthropology researcher and notable proponent of the idea that malocclusion is a "disease of civilization" and not purely inherited, is one of his advisers.

There were a number of excellent talks, and others that didn't meet my standards for information quality.  Overall, an interesting conference with seemingly less drama than in previous years.

Mosquito-borne disease

Maine CDC has confirmed the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in two mosquito pools from York County.

EEE is a virus that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause serious illness in humans; large animals, like horses; and some species of birds. Maine confirmed EEE in a flock of pheasants during 2012 and experienced unprecedented EEE activity during 2009 with multiple animals and mosquito pools testing positive for the virus.

Regionally, all of our surrounding states have also identified EEE in 2013, including mosquito pools in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Two horses have tested positive for EEE in Massachusetts as well.

Maine CDC recommends the following preventative measures to protect against EEE and other mosquito-borne illnesses:
  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellent when outdoors, especially around dawn and dusk. Always follow the instructions on the product’s label;
  • Wear protective clothing when outdoors, including long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks;
  • Keep window and door screens down to keep mosquitoes out of the home;
  • Limit time outdoors at dawn and dusk when many species of mosquitoes are most active;
  • Remove containers holding water in and around the home, as water can attract mosquitoes.

Maine's Health and Environmental Laboratory (HETL) routinely performs testing for EEE and West Nile virus (WNV) in mosquitoes, large animals and humans. Maine stopped testing individual dead birds for mosquito-borne illnesses in 2006 and no longer uses them as an indicator for disease.

Maine CDC will continue to update information on mosquito-borne disease surveillance in the state every Monday from May through September at

Information on pesticides and repellents is available at the Maine Board of Pesticides Control website at:


I've enjoyed the variety of weather this year as much as any I can remember. I'm not one for excessive heat, retiring as I tend to do under awnings and standing about with a Panama  pulled down over my ears. So a hot day that ends in a spectacular thunderstorm watched from a local pub window holds a particular appeal. And then to traverse my stretch of countryside as the clouds clear and the last of the sun spotlights the fields brings me dancing about on the wet grass verges. The only sound the odd bleat from the fields and my village church sounding the hour. It doesn't get much better than this.

Back To School
This time of year is the perfect opportunity to start a new project.
We are here for you with a couple new Block of the Month Programs.
- - - - - - - - -
Road To Freedom
Finished Quilt - Approx 60" x 74"
 Lori Smith's Road to Freedom 
 We will be making this quilt using primarily Jo Morton
fabrics. Jo's Best Friends line will be the jumping off
point and new fabrics will be added as new Jo lines arrive
 in the shop. Final Setting has not been determined.
Finishing kits will be available at the end of the project.
Here are the details:
- - - - - - - - -
This program will begin shipping in September.
Initial shipment will include pattern.
Each month you will receive fabric for 5 - 5" blocks
- - - - - - - - -
Monthly Kit - $24.00
Shipping and handling - $4.00
Sign up today - Space is limited
1852 Coverlet Memories
Finished Quilt - 45" x 47"
1852 Coverlet Memories is a great project to work on your applique
skills. Each month you will receive fabric and patterns for several motifs
to be appliqued onto a whole cloth background. Here are the details:
- - - - - - - - -
This program will begin shipping in October.
Initial Shipment will include background fabric.
- - - - - - - - -
Monthly Kit - $15.00
Shipping and handling - $3.00
Sign up today - Space is limited
- - - - - - - - -
**Note** fabrics pictured are no longer available.
Great new fabric will be included in your kits.

Most don’t wash their hands long enough

Do you spend enough time washing your hands? If you’re like most people, probably not, a recent study finds.

The study, conducted in a U.S. college town, found that only about 5 percent of people wash their hands for as long as is recommended. That means that about 95 percent of us aren’t washing our hands long enough!

Researchers discovered that about 67 percent of people use soap when washing their hands, 23 percent wet their hands but skip the soap and another 10 percent of participants don’t wash their hands at all after using the bathroom. (Yuck!)

So why do these findings matter?

Many people don’t understand how important hand-washing is for preventing the spread of diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that poor hand-washing practices contribute to half of all foodborne illness outbreaks. Visitors to Yellowstone National Park this summer are being urged to practice good hand hygiene among other steps to protect against a spike in gastrointestinal illness that has struck in and around the park. 

Washing your hands is also one of the best ways to prevent spread of the flu.

By frequently washing your hands, you wash away germs that you have picked up from other people and surfaces or from animals and their waste. Washing your hands properly not only protects you from getting sick, but also protects other people, too.
Now that you understand how important hand-washing is, here are a few tips on how to do it right:
  • Wet your hands using warm water.
  • Wash with soap for at least 20 seconds. (A good guide is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.)
  • Rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all skin surfaces.
  • Be sure to rinse all of the soap off your hands.
  • When soap and water aren’t available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can tide you over until you reach a sink.
For more tips and our fact sheet series, visit the Get Ready hand-washing page.

5 Tips for Safe Handling and Use of Pesticides

What are pesticides?

According to the Department of Agriculture, “Pesticides are natural or synthetic chemicals that kill, attract, repel, or otherwise control the growth of pest plants, animals, and microorganisms.” Basically, pesticides are bug and weed killers.  They are all toxic, but the amount that is needed to cause an effect varies greatly. Some are toxic to people, pets or wildlife in amounts as small as a tablespoon where others may take gallons. Concentrated products that are designed to be mixed with water before application are usually more toxic than ready-to-use products that are applied without any mixing.

How do you use these products safely?

1) The best way to avoid the hazards of pesticides is to not use them. Visit our Common Sense Gardening web page for gardening and lawn care guides or (360) 867-2674.

2) Research what will most effectively solve your pest problem. A helpful guide to aid in the selection of pesticide products that are rated low hazards can be found in the Grow Smart Grow Safe guide

3) Read the directions before you buy it.
Before you purchase a pesticide, read the directions and precautionary statement. Be certain that you are willing, able, and comfortable handling and using the product. And purchase only the amount you need. The less hazardous products you have stored around your home, the less likely your family and pets are exposed to them.

4) Re-read the directions each time you use it and follow them.
All pesticide products contain directions that describe how they should be applied and precautions about potentially hazardous situations. If there is a known hazard, there will be a direction to avoid the hazard. For example, corrosive liquids may require the applicator (that’s YOU) to avoid skin contact by wearing gloves, clothing to cover skin, glasses and/or goggles.

Here is an example of a precautionary statement from a potentially corrosive moss control product:

WARNING: Causes substantial but temporary eye injury. Causes skin irritation. Do not get in eyes, on skin or on clothing. Wear protective eyewear (goggles, face shield or safety glasses). Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling. Remove contaminated clothing and wash before reuse

Here is an example of a precautionary statement from a potentially toxic fungus control product:

CAUTION: Harmful if swallowed or absorbed through skin or inhaled. Causes moderate eye irritation. Avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing. Avoid breathing spray mist. Prolonged or frequently repeated skin contact may cause allergic reaction in some individuals.

General Precautions and Restrictions: Do not allow people or pets to enter treated areas until sprays have dried. Do not apply this product in a way that will contact other persons or pets, either directly or through drift.

The second label warns the applicator to avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing – it does not specifically tell the user how to avoid contact (use of gloves, goggles, waterproof clothing).

5) Dispose of unused, unwanted pesticides properly – take them to HazoHouse to be disposed of properly for free. HazoHouse is a household hazardous waste disposal location at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center (formerly the landfill). Disposing of hazardous products safely keeps them from polluting our water ways, makes sure that kids or pets don’t accidentally get into them and is free and easy!

Emerging Tick-borne Disease: Babesiosis

Babesiosis is a parasitic infection transmitted by deer ticks, the same tick that carries Lyme disease. Babesiosis is an emerging infection in Maine with 17 cases being reported between January and mid-August, compared to a total of 10 cases in 2012. Most infections occur in the summer and fall months, so the number of 2013 cases is expected to rise.

So far, cases have been reported this year in Cumberland, Knox, and York counties.

Common symptoms include: extreme fatigue, aches, fever, chills, sweating, dark urine, and possibly anemia. People with babesiosis may experience no symtpoms at all. Babesiosis is treatable, and people who are infected and do not have underlying conditions generally make a full recovery. 

If you are bitten by a tick:
  • Remove the tick properly, ideally using tweezers or a tick spoon.
  • Clean the area around the bite, and watch for symptoms for 30 days.
  • Have your health care provider identify the tick and the engorgement level, or amount of time attached.  Tick identification is available through the Maine Medical Center Research Institute 
  • Testing of the tick is not routinely recommended.

If babesiosis is suspected: Your health care provider should test you. If you have babesiosis, you should be treated with medicine for a week to 10 days.

Remember that there are other diseases carried by ticks in Maine, including anaplasmosis and Lyme disease. Symptoms of anaplasmosis include: fever, headache, malaise, and body aches.  The most common early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash that occurs at the site of the tick bite within 3-30 days after being bitten.  Fever, joint and muscle pains may also occur.  People can get infected with anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and/or Lyme disease at the same time.

Last year, health care providers reported 52 cases of anaplasmosis in Maine, compared to 45 cases so far this year.  In 2012, providers reported 1,111 cases of Lyme disease in Maine, so far 489 cases have been reported in 2013.

Additional information: