Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – February 6, 2004

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

February 6, 2004

USEPA Clamps Down on Disinfectant Pesticides in Efficacy Testing Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered several antimicrobial manufacturers to cease selling their products as part of a comprehensive effort to ensure that sterilizers, hospital disinfectants and other public health antimicrobials are effective in killing microorganisms. USEPA is currently working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state labs in Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina to conduct the antimicrobial product testing.

USEPA has been re-testing the efficacy of public health antimicrobials for several years, but the pace of testing has accelerated after recent findings suggested that approximately 50 percent of all sterilizers did not meet Agency efficacy standards. The initial review led to a USEPA “stop-sale” order for several products and the initiation of efforts to reformulate or re-label certain antimicrobials.

While initial testing was conducted on sterilizers normally used to kill bacteria, viruses and spores in hospitals and on medical equipment, USEPA reports current testing includes hospital disinfectants and tuberculocide products.

Future testing will focus on the antimicrobial efficacy of bleach-based products, and a potential review of common sanitizers used in household disinfectants.

NOAA Announces $3 Million in Grants for Studies on Oceans, Human Health

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) announced that it is making nearly $3 million available for research grants on oceans and human health in 2004. Research studies will be conducted under NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative, a program designed to coordinate agency activities on critical areas of concern and identify critical gaps in the connection between oceans and human health.

Among the variety of issues the initiative addresses are beach closures, infectious diseases, marine toxins and pathogens, algal blooms, seafood safety and testing, sentinel species, and pharmaceuticals.

Information on NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative is available at:
http://www.ogp.noaa.gov/mpe/ohi/index.htm.
Bush Budget Includes Improvement of Nation’s Bio-Surveillance Capabilities

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have announced that President Bush’s fiscal year 2005 budget request will include a $274 million Bio-Surveillance Program Initiative. The initiative would increase protection efforts against bioterrorism attacks in the U.S. and help to strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure.

DHS Secretary Tom Ridge and HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced the proposed initiative at a joint press conference, describing it as a means of improving on current surveillance programs in areas such as human health, hospital preparedness, state and local preparedness, vaccine research and procurement, animal health, food and agriculture safety and environmental monitoring.

Among the initiative’s specifics are expenditures by DHS to expand and upgrade the BioWatch program, and to create a system that integrates a variety of surveillance data from across the government. Proposed efforts at HHS would focus on strengthening medical research laboratories, improving programs to monitor human health through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and enhancing food surveillance in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

More information on the Bio-Surveillance Program Initiative can be found at:
http://hhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20040129.html
Acheson Named Director of Food Safety and Security

On February 2, 2004, David W.K. Acheson, M.D. was appointed Director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety and Security Staff in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). In addition to providing leadership across a wide range of FDA food safety and security issues, he will also maintain his position as Chief Medical Officer for CFSAN, continuing his oversight role on all medical and clinical aspects of food safety and security issues under the FDA’s authority.

Acheson is internationally recognized for his public health expertise in food safety and his research work in infectious diseases.

The FDA press release announcement can be found at:
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2004/NEW01013.html

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