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University of Iowa News Release


June 27, 2008

Public health experts offer flood-cleanup information

As Iowans recover from the 2008 flood, a collaborative effort between the University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) and the University of Iowa College of Public Health (CPH) is helping inform Iowans of the serious public health risks associated with flood cleanup.

"From a public health standpoint, the flood cleanup phase is a very dangerous and serious situation," said James Merchant, dean of the UI College of Public Health. "During this time, there needs to be an emphasis on adequate protection and awareness of public health hazards."

CPH and UHL experts are addressing flood recovery topics through informational materials presented to the media and the public. A set of public health fact sheets on water quality, infectious disease, mold, environmental hazards, mental health, injury prevention and fraud are available at

Videos on coping with the stress of a natural disaster and assessing the safety of well water are also available on the site.

"The flood of 2008 left many Iowans with the daunting job of cleanup and rebuilding their homes," said Christopher Atchison, UHL director. "Our goal in providing this flood-related information is to help guide people through the public health risks they might face as they work."

Planned future topics for the site include preparedness for future storms, tracking the rate of illness following a flood, and mold cleanup.

Additional information about public health concerns related to flooding is also on the UHL home page at and the Upper Midwest Center for Public Health Preparedness at

Established in 1999, the UI College of Public Health is one of 40 accredited schools of public health in the United States and the only such school in Iowa. The college offers the Master of Health Administration, Master of Public Health, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees with multiple majors and focus areas, as well as combined degree programs with the UI Colleges of Business, Law, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy -- and Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is part of the University of Iowa and is the state of Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory. The UHL is the designated laboratory for the Iowa Neonatal Metabolic Screening Program, with facilities located on the 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. 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.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health, Office of Communications and External Relationship, 4257 WL; University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACTS: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647,; Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,