Sunday, November 8, 2009


There is no mistaking this year’s theme for APHA’s 137th Annual Meeting. Water and public health is front and center, especially once you set foot in the Public Health Expo hall. Hand sanitizers may be among the most popular giveaways, but water resource management is clearly on the minds of many.

Among the 650 booths present at the expo, two deserve honorable mentions and creative kudos for highlighting this year’s water and public health theme in a particularly unique way.

First is the Environmental Protection Agency for its booth dedicated to the “3Ts” campaign. The 3Ts, (training, testing, and telling) is an outreach program for school officials and child care operators that builds awareness about water quality and seeks to reduce lead in drinking water. Visit the booth and get yourself a copy of the 3Ts toolkit — a how-to guide that can be adapted for local use to reduce risk of childhood lead exposure. After all, lead-free is best for me. (And you! It’s the campaign slogan; I didn’t come up with that one on my own.)

The second water-themed award-winning booth (in this blogger’s view) is the aptly named Infectious Awareables (otherwise known as iAwareables). The company debuted at APHA’s Annual Meeting in 1997 and the rest is history. iAwareables, booth #1405, has a remarkably large collection of awareness products (ties, scarves, etc.) that are designed to promote awareness and feature bacteria, viruses and other scientific images. They even have a whole line of products featuring water-borne illnesses! The goal, they say, is to promote interest and discussion around serious public health issues.

It seems the company has done very well for itself: According to People magazine, “the ties are spreading like swine flu.” The public service-minded company also donates a significant portion of its proceeds to organizations dedicated to research, education or treatment.

And with the holidays approaching, who wouldn’t appreciate a tie or a pair of bioboxers featuring E. Coli or the norovirus? I know it gets me in the mood….

— M.S.

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