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



Toxic Food Chains and PFAS in Our Food Supply

by | Dec 14, 2022

Toxic Food Chains and PFAS in Our Food Supply

Co-authors: Mark Goldfeder, MS, NRP & Allison A. Sakara, NP, MSN, RN, PHRN 

Medical experts have asserted for years that a healthy diet is key to a long and healthy life. People worldwide work daily to maintain a proper diet, make the right choices, and strike a balance with regular exercise to stay healthy and productive. At the same time, farmers worldwide work tirelessly to cultivate their lands for crops and livestock to provide the best products to consumers. But all of these efforts are being thwarted by 4 simple letters – PFAS.

Our previous articles in this series described how PFAS (per- or poly-fluoroalkyl substances) enters the environment, exposing plants, animals, and people to PFAS. From these environmental sources, PFAS permeates the food chain at every link, as below:

  • Air, water, and soil are contaminated with PFAS from many sources.
  • Plants absorb chemical contaminants from air, water, and soil, concentrating PFAS in the plants.
  • Contaminated water is used to irrigate crops grown in contaminated soil.
  • Animals breathe contaminated air and consume contaminated water and plants.
  • People breathe contaminated air and consume contaminated water, crops, and animals.
  • People and animals excrete contaminated waste (urine and stool) which becomes biomass fertilizer or is disposed of as sewage, re-contaminating water, and soil.

Using PFAS-contaminated water to water plants or crops introduces PFAS into our soil. The roots of the plants or crops take up the water to help them grow. At the same time, those chemicals enter the plant. Those chemicals are ingested when crops are harvested and used to feed humans or animals. PFAS from this toxic food chain builds up over time in plants, animals, and humans. This process, known as bioaccumulation, leads to significant health problems. 

PFAS contamination of farmlands has devastating results. The scientific literature cites multiple instances in which farmers and ranchers have had to cull entire herds because of PFAS bioaccumulation. In one example from a 2022 scientific journal, multiple PFAS compounds were identified in the milk of a dairy farm. The PFAS source was traced back to a neighboring site, which spread contamination to the farm. Tragically, the entire herd of cattle had to be destroyed, along with the 15,000 gallons of milk per day produced by the cows until they could be euthanized. 

In addition to contaminating food, PFAS directly impacts plant and animal growth and the nutritional quality of food. Once in the soil, PFAS increases the pH levels of the soil, affecting the nutrients available for plants to absorb. As a result, plants and crops grown in PFAS-contaminated soil do not mature properly and are not as nutritious. Scientists have discovered that there are places near chemical plants where fish and other animals no longer breed. Initial studies suggest this, too, can be linked to PFAS chemicals. Shrinking populations of healthy animals lower in the food chain also have long-lasting and detrimental effects on the entire habitat, threatening the food supply chain essential for survival of predatory animals.

Another route by which PFAS enters our food is through nonstick coatings of cookware. During the cooking process, PFAS contaminates food in two ways. The first is nonstick coating scraped off the pan and other cookware during everyday use, causing flakes of PFAS-laden nonstick coating to incorporate into the cooking food. Secondly, when nonstick pots and pans overheat, PFAS leaches from the coating into the food. Nonstick cookware has a cooking temperature limit of 500’F to 550’F, temperatures easily achieved with residential or commercial cooktops, ovens, and ranges. 

Restaurant and home cooking are not the only places nonstick PFAS treatments are used in food preparation. Industrial bakeries and many other food processors use cooking vessels with nonstick coatings, along with assembly lines, conveyor systems, and automated cooking systems. Many industrial nonstick sprays contain microparticles laden with PFAS, which transfer from the cooking surface to the food products. Worse, the lack of safe limits on PFAS content and exposure allows these sprays to be labeled “Food-Safe,” lulling producers and consumers into believing they pose no danger.  

We are at risk of ingesting increasingly more PFAS chemicals every time we drink water and eat food. PFAS exposure is linked to many diseases and health issues, including cancer, thyroid disease, congenital disabilities, endocrine disruption, miscarriage, preeclampsia, asthma, diabetes, and high cholesterol. (This will be the focus of our next article.) We must stop using PFAS chemicals and find a way to destroy them so that our water and food supply is clean and healthy for all plants, animals, and people.

Unfortunately, there is little that the average consumer can do to avoid PFAS in food currently. There is no requirement for PFAS testing of food or water. Even if testing were mandated, there is no PFAS labeling for food and no standards or certification for “PFAS-Free” food, water or even cooking utensils. The best option is for all of us to support environmental groups and others working to measure and remove PFAS from the environment and the food supply.

About the Authors:

Mark Goldfeder, MS, NRP, is the Founder and President of Five Bugles Institute, a provider of safety, leadership, and technical education nationally for over a decade. He is the co-author of Five Bugles Institute’s PFAS remediation and replacement educational program. Learn more about Five Bugles Institute’s research at

Allison A. Sakara, NP, MSN, RN, PHRN is the Co-Founder & Executive Director 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

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