Environmental Health Division: Highlights - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Environmental Health Division

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We Are Water MN at the State Capitol January 9, 2018

We Are Water MN, a partnership led by the Minnesota Humanities Center and state agency partners, MDH, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Historical Society announces that the traveling exhibit will be at the State Capitol January 9, 2018 – March 12, 2018. We Are Water MN is an interactive story collecting exhibit that includes stories from people reflecting on the meaning and experience of water in Minnesota, stories from local people. This is an opportunity to explore the connections between humanities and water through this hands-on exhibit and learn the Minnesota water story. The exhibit is on display in the State Capitol’s East Corridor, ground level. You can visit it any time the capitol is open to the public. For more information, go to the MPCA Feature Story: Water Exhibit at the State Capitol and visit the Minnesota Humanities Center: We Are Water MN Traveling Exhibit for more information on future activities.

January is Radon Action Month and a good time to test your home

January is National Radon Action Month and Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed January as Radon Action Month in Minnesota. Throughout the month, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is urging Minnesotans to test their homes. In addition, MDH is partnering with local public health departments to make test kits available to Minnesotans at low or no cost. Health officials are also working with A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and the Minnesota Cancer Alliance to promote radon testing and reduction.
Test kits are available at city and county health departments, many hardware stores, or directly from radon testing laboratories. A list of participating health agencies and test kit vendors can be found on the MDH website at Radon Testing.

For more information on radon testing and mitigation, visit Radon in Minnesota Homes or call the Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit at 651-201-4601 or 1-800-798-9050.

Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC) Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) working team

On August 29-30, 2017, MDH hosted a meeting of the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC) Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) working team. The meeting brought together experts in PFASs from around the country to complete the important work of drafting new fact sheets that will help states and local communities address the issue of PFAS contamination in their environment. The ITRC is a state-led, public-private coalition dedicated to reducing barriers to the use of innovative environmental technologies. ITRC represents over 700 individuals, across 50 states, working to produce guidance and training on innovative environmental solutions. Bringing together teams of state and federal regulators along with private, academic, and stakeholder experts, ITRC broadens and deepens technical knowledge and reduces barriers to expedient regulatory approval.

Ginny Yingling of the Environmental Surveillance and Assessment Section in the Environmental Health Division, is co-chair of this technical team, and has provided key leadership for this effort.

Image of the welcome to the group from Commissioner Ed Ehlinger and Commissioner John Linc Stine of the MPCA. Also pictured (back row) are Tom Higgins from MPCA, who serves on the ITRC Board, and co-chair Bob Mueller of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

This photo is from the first morning of the meeting, after a warm Minnesota welcome to the group from Commissioner Ed Ehlinger and Commissioner John Linc Stine of the MPCA. Also pictured (back row) are Tom Higgins from MPCA, who serves on the ITRC Board, and co-chair Bob Mueller of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Enclosed Sports Arena Program earns Excellence in Safety Award

Congratulations to our Enclosed Sports Arena program for receiving the Albert E. Tyldesley Excellence in Safety Award.

Mary Navarro; Kelly Smeltzer; John Olson and Dan Tranter accept award

The award was earned for promoting safe practices in indoor ice arenas. It was given by the Ice Skating Institute in recognition of our program's commitment to protecting Minnesota's ice arena users from dangerous emissions from combustion powered engines and equipment like resurfacers and edgers. It was accepted by Mary Navara, Kelly Smeltzer, John Olson, and Dan Tranter. Kelly and John go out on regular indoor ice arena inspections to examine air quality records and to monitor the air for carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Learn more about MDH's indoor ice arena inspections on the Enclosed Sports Arenas webpage.

$220 Million Plan to Modernize Minnesota's Aging Water Infrastructure and Protect Water Quality

For many of Minnesota's smaller communities, the cost of replacing infrastructure that was built decades ago can be significant. Without state assistance, it is estimated that Minnesotans in these communities could see their water and sewer bills double or even triple to cover the cost of necessary improvements, making it challenging for communities to keep and attract residents and businesses. On January 14, 2017, Governor Dayton announced his plan to provide funding to help face that challenge. See the full story:

Updated County Well Index Online Launched

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) launched a new online interface for accessing information on wells and borings in Minnesota. The new interface, known as the Minnesota Well Index (MWI), replaces the old County Well Index (CWI) Online and provides an updated and expanded Web application to improve well and boring information retrieval capabilities.

Just like CWI Online, MWI provides access to CWI which is a database that contains over 500,000 well and borings records in Minnesota. MWI also provides access to well sealing records as well as other information maintained by MDH such as water chemistry and scanned records.

MWI was created as part of an effort to enhance the CWI with funding provided by state legislature through the Clean Water Fund. In addition to the development of MWI, the CWI database was updated, over 100,000 well records were entered or updated and another 90,000 additional records were scanned.

The next phase, currently underway, will provide a secure login for well contractors and others to submit notifications and permits, pay fees, and enter and manage records online. It is also the intent to make MWI more mobile device friendly.

For more information about MWI, please contact MDH's Well Management Section at 651 201-4600 or health.minnesotawellindex@state.mn.us.

Microbial Risk Assessment Project

Sampling has begun on a two year microbial risk assessment project sponsored by the MDH Health Risk Assessment Unit in partnership with the University of Minnesota. Sampling for a storm water collection system for irrigation is starting, and the University will also be studying a rainwater collection system for flushing toilets. The samples will be analyzed to characterize the microbial population in the water of the systems over time and under varying weather conditions, with a particular interest in human pathogen content. The goal is to provide a health risk context for water reuse in Minnesota.

For Environmental Health information in other languages, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's multilingual websites at:
EPA Spanish | EPA Korean |  EPA Vietnamese

Updated Friday, January 05, 2018 at 03:39PM