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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 9, 2007

Iowa Participates In Performance Standards Project

Iowa's statewide public health and environmental laboratory system is one of 10 programs in the nation selected by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) to pilot a newly designed assessment of laboratory performance. Held last Friday at the University Hygienic Laboratory in Ankeny, Iowa, the session drew environmental and public health professionals from across the state.

The assessment is designed to gather input on the capacity and performance of Iowa's system in meeting national public health laboratory standards. Included in the statewide public health and environmental networks are private and public laboratories, state and local health agencies, governmental officials, and other key partners.

"We are pleased that the UHL has been selected to help develop the process by which all labs in the nation can be evaluated," said UHL Interim Director Chris Atchison. "I think this selection is another demonstration of the respect laboratories at the national level have for Iowa."

Becky Anderson, an APHL/CDC emerging infectious diseases fellow who works with UHL, led the planning group for the statewide assessment that was attended by more than 60 public health and environmental partners from throughout Iowa.

Washington was the first state to participate in the assessment; Iowa is the second. Other states chosen to participate are Missouri, Maine, California, Utah, Texas, South Carolina, New Hampshire and New Jersey.

The review is based on how well the statewide network meets 10 essential public health services, including monitoring health status to identify community health programs; diagnosis and investigation of health problems and hazards; informing and educating the public; mobilizing partners to identify and solve problems; and enforcement of laws and regulations to protect health and ensure safety.

The essential health services are supported by the 11 state public health laboratory core functions of disease prevention, control and surveillance; integrated data management; reference and specialized testing; environmental health and protection; food safety; laboratory improvement and regulation; policy development; emergency response; public health-related research; training and education; and partnerships and communication.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is the state of Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory, with facilities located on the University of Iowa's Oakdale Campus in Iowa City and at the Iowa Lab Facilities in Ankeny, a Des Moines suburb. Among its many services, the laboratory functions as a consultative and analytical support facility for state agencies, health professionals and citizens. UHL is part of the UI and has developed and maintained effective and productive collaborations with the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Geological Survey, and local public health agencies. The UHL performs analyses on samples from virtually all matrices, including human clinical specimens, air, drinking water, wastewater, soil, sediment, industrial effluents, oil and fish. In addition to performing analyses by specified methods, the UHL provides methods development and procedure verification for non-routine analyses. Additional information about UHL, its programs and services is available online at

STORY SOURCE: University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,

PHOTOS: Photos of the University Hygienic Laboratory are available by contacting Pat Blake at 319-335-4177