Griffin Works offers Pawsitive Interactions with Service Dogs During Response Operations©, an audience-customized training that breaks down barriers by offering hands-on handling training and demonstrations with working service dogs for fire departments, EMS agencies, and public safety organizations.

Part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium and home to the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center, TEEX has been leading homeland security training since 1998. The major TEEX programs include fire and rescue, infrastructure and safety, law enforcement, economic and workforce development, and homeland security. As a member of The Texas A&M University System, TEEX is unique in its ability to access a broad range of emerging research and technical expertise. Beginning with course design and development all the way through hands-on instruction and national certification testing, TEEX delivers comprehensive training through both classroom and hands-on instruction and as online courses.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of child-serving professionals, caregivers and young adults, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S. The NCTSN is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and coordinated by the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS). 

The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The EMI provides national leadership in developing and delivering training to ensure that individuals and groups having key emergency management responsibilities possess the requisite skills to effectively perform their jobs.

The High Alert Institute maintains a list of reviewed courses provided by governments, universities and professional organizations. This list is geared towards the non-emergency management person who participates in disaster planning, preparedness, response, recovery or mitigation as part of their job responsibilities.

The High Alert Institute has partnered with Shutterstock to distribute stock images from the nature images donated by our supporters. For eligible stock images, Shutterstock will donate a portion of the royalty to the High Alert Institute. There is no cost to charitable organizations or to Shutterstock customers.

For eligible purchases through AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the High Alert Institute. There is no cost to charitable organizations or to AmazonSmile customers. All you need to do is push the SMILE NOW button and select to support THE HIGH ALERT INSTITUTE on AmazonSmile.

Koi need forever homes, too! For pond enthusiasts, freshwater exotic and ornamental fish may not be available through pet stores or rescues in their area. The High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program will be happy to assist you in stocking your new pond or adding a new finned friend to your school. Coming soon – when you adopt a Koi from the High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program, we can arrange for delivery to your door anywhere in the continental United States.

Have you always wanted a Koi pond but don’t have the space one? Sponsor a Koi in our community shelter pond and we send you photos of your sponsored animal. Coming soon are live Koi Cameras above and below the water to enjoy your sponsored Koi anytime.

Dumping of freshwater non-native species and exotic aquatic pets into wild habitats is a man-made disaster that is truly preventable. The Institute’s Aquatic Pet Welfare Partnership works to raise awareness and reduce the impact on healthy ecosystems through education, as well as rescue and rehoming. Joined by champions of animal welfare and environmental stewardship, this  association of aquatic pet rescue operations and aquatic pet shelters across the United States aims to save our finned friends and preserve our waterways together.

Want to share our cause with family, friends, and colleagues? Looking for a non-traditional way to celebrate a birthday or honor someone special? Support the Institute by starting your own Peer-to-Peer fundraising challenge! Let your contacts know why our mission is important to you and what they can do to support your cause. START YOUR OWN FUNDRAISER for the High Alert Institute.

From the staffing pool to the shelter ponds, from the boardroom to the classroom, and from reading the science to writing the analyses, High Alert Institute programs and services benefit from the experience, expertise, and generosity of our volunteers. Put your talents to use for good and to good use – VOLUNTEER TODAY.

Make your donation twice as nice by rehoming aquatic pets and providing a rehabilitation companion pet to a deserving person, family, or facility. Sponsor part or all of a Joy of Koi Program pond installation – complete with rehomed koi – and give the gifts of love and recovery.

Professional photographers, amateurs, and legal copywrite holders are all welcome to participate in the High Alert Institute Nature Photo Donation Program. Sales of the images benefit the Institute and donors are eligible for tax deductions equivalent to the fair market value of their photos. Landscapes, seascapes, animals, flowers – all may be accepted – whether new or vintage  images. People may be included in the photo but only if unidentifiable (i.e., blurred figures at a distance).

Did you know that unused patents and copyrights can be donated to charity? Intellectual Property (IP) just sitting on a shelf will lose value as it becomes obsolete. The High Alert Institute IP Donation Program seeks to rescue stranded, technology-related IP with the potential for development into marketable products. Once accepted by the program, the owner/inventor is eligible for a tax deduction equivalent to the fair market value of the IP. The Institute receives the patent licensing fees or revenue from the sale of the IP to businesses, helping us to fund our mission. In turn, businesses are able to advance their markets and create jobs for less money than starting a project from scratch.

Disasters are defined as situations in which needs exceed or overwhelm available resources. Some disasters affect an entire community, while other disasters impact individuals and families. Crises of physical or psychological health can be very personal disasters.
The therapeutic value of pets during illness, trauma, and recovery is well established. And Koi fish may be well suited for people who are not able to provide verbal pet commands or physically care for pets like dogs and cats. Koi ponds are also a source of beauty and peace, providing an ideal setting for quiet reflection or meditation.
We are working to partner with pond installers and aquatic pet rescues/shelters to offer free or reduced-cost ponds with rehomed Koi fish to people seeking this type of pet therapy.

Disasters disrupt life and impact our sense of personal, family, and community safety. Survivors and responders alike often are not aware of the emotional, psychological or spiritual challenges that they may face from disaster onset through recovery. With two decades of experience training responders and communities to prepare for the behavioral health aspects of disasters, we will continue to provide education and a curated list of resources to groups or individuals.

Non-medical factors that impact overall health are termed Social Determinants of Health or SDoH. Noise pollution, poor air quality, and poor water quality are three environmental factors known to have a strong link to overall health. And the same environmental factors that impact humans impact their pets and other animals in their care. We continue to assist in advocacy, education, and technology development to mitigate the impact of SDoH on humans and animals alike.

Our efforts in shelter and rescue are the main focus of our environmental stewardship, reducing the environmental impact of non-native aquatic animals being dumped into public waterways. The High Alert Institute also assists innovators with the design, development, and evaluation of green and renewable energy technologies. Reducing the carbon footprint associated with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery furthers our continued mission to mitigate risk and improve resilience.

We partner with public and private organizations, sharing resources and fostering partnerships to improve disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and mitigation.

The High Alert Institute team has over a century of combined research experience in medical, nursing, behavioral health, and disaster sciences. Our team provides support to researchers and technology developers through comprehensive literature searches and reviews, as well as failure mode database searches and adjudicated reviews.

When disaster strikes, most aquatic pet owners have limited options to secure the safety of their pets. Sheltering in place may not be possible if there is no power to provide aeration and “pet-friendly” shelters do not include ponds or aquariums. Our goal is to provide an option for aquatic pet owners in need of rescue and shelter for their finned friends.

Our goal is to share our two decades of disaster readiness experience with animal welfare organizations, shelters, caretakers, and pet owners, as they implement contingency  plans for natural and manmade disasters.

High Alert Institute



Bioaccumulation and the One Nature/One Health Impacts of PFAS

by | Dec 21, 2022

Bioaccumulation and the One Nature/One Health Impacts of PFAS

Coauthors: Maurice A. Ramirez, DO, PhD and Alyssa Middleton, PhD

PFAS (per- or poly-fluoroalkyl substances) chemicals, also known as ‘forever chemicals’, do not naturally break down in the environment. During the pandemic alone, over 3600 peer-reviewed scientific papers on the human health effects of PFAS were published despite the limitations created by the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns. These articles demonstrate that the over 4000 PFASs are abundant, extremely persistent, and highly mobile in the environment. Our previous articles in this series have identified the risks of exposure to PFAS in the air, soil, water, and food. Today we will discuss the One Nature/One Health impacts of PFAS and how these risks are magnified by bioaccumulation.

The scientific literature shows that PFAS bioaccumulates (builds up) in plants, animals, and humans. Scientific studies report that aquatic and land animals in PFAS-contaminated habitats suffer immunocompromise, cancers, and failure to reproduce. One study of freshwater turtles found that blood PFAS levels were a shocking 235 times higher than the PFAS level in their natural habitat.

Studies estimate that 97% of people in the United States have PFAS in their blood. Every time we drink water and eat food, we risk ingesting increasingly more PFAS chemicals. PFAS exposure is linked to many diseases and health issues, including the following: cancer, thyroid disease, congenital disabilities, endocrine disruption, miscarriage, preeclampsia, asthma, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Other effects are detrimental changes in total cholesterol, glucose metabolism, body mass index (BMI), thyroid function, fertility, breast milk, uric acid, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Exposure to these chemicals can lead to a buildup of these toxins in our blood, compounding the many serious health concerns. 

In the Mid-Ohio Valley, a recent study of 69,000 people drinking PFAS-contaminated water for at least one year linked PFAS to high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular and kidney cancers, and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Other studies have reported decreased vaccine response, liver damage, and decreased birth weight from exposure to PFAS. In animal studies, the effects of PFAS similar to those in humans: liver toxicity, suppressed immune function, altered mammary gland development, obesity, and cancer. 

Scientists believe that we have the power to phase out direct exposure to PFAS by using alternative compounds in product production. Still, PFAS accumulation in our bodies, food chains, and drinking water will persist until environmental contamination is remediated. Some PFASs are no longer used or manufactured (legacy PFAS), and blood levels of legacy PFAS in humans are declining globally. Unfortunately, total PFAS levels are rising due to exposure as PFAS use expands. 

Many organizations, including the WHO and EPA, have issued guidelines for PFAS environmental exposure levels. However, these are non-enforceable voluntary standards. Despite the well-documented health impacts of PFAS exposure, no regulatory agency has issued enforceable standards called Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs, for PFAS exposure.

Several ongoing studies are investigating the long-term health effects of PFAS contamination. Not surprisingly, interim data analyses confirm the negative impacts PFAS has on our physical and mental health. The scientific literature has demonstrated that environmental PFAS remediation reduces the rate of PFAS bioaccumulation, but other sources of PFAS exposure are unavoidable; PFAS in plants, animals, and our bodies lasts for many years. Studies confirm that people moving into formerly PFAS-contaminated locations after remediation have a lower risk of PFAS-related health complications than people who lived there originally. The same is true for people who move away from a PFAS-contaminated area to live in a locale with minimal PFAS exposure. What has yet to be determined is the degree to which health risks are reduced for those who live in the same region before and after PFAS remediation.

While the scientific evidence continues to build, the logical conclusion is that reducing exposure and bioaccumulation will reduce the health impacts of PFAS. Individuals can reduce their personal PFAS exposure through careful product selection, which avoids PFAS-containing products. The larger PFAS health risks related to environmental and food chain exposures will not be solved until regulatory agencies issue MCLs and testing requirements for PFAS in air, water, soil, and food. Individuals and businesses have the power to influence change through their purchases and by supporting environmental organizations calling for PFAS regulation and remediation.  

About the Authors:

Maurice A. Ramirez, D.O., Ph.D. is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in Disaster Medicine and Co-Founder of the High Alert Institute, a 501c3 not-for-profit educational public charity dedicated to providing disaster readiness education and resources to unserved and underserved communities, industries and charitable organizations in an All Hazards, One Health/One Nature, One Framework paradigm. Learn more about the High Alert Institute at 

Alyssa Middleton, Ph.D., has over 20 years of experience working with cancer patients and their families and conducting cancer research.  She is the co-author of Five Bugles Institute’s PFAS remediation and replacement educational program.  Learn more about Five Bugles Institute’s research at

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