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Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) and K-12 Resources

Posted by on July 29th, 2011 Posted in: All Posts

by Terri Ottosen, Consumer Health Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A Region

Many network members are familiar with the Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) at the National Library of Medicine, but perhaps many are not or would like a refresher or reminder of the information and resources provided by the Division. Recently at an exhibit for school nurses in D.C., the Consumer Health Coordinator (Terri) and the Public Health Coordinator (Sheila) for the Region, met Karen Matzkin. She coordinates the K-12 program for the SIS and attended the conference to display a poster. She brought some very helpful handouts for nurses and teachers to give out at the booth. These handouts were very popular with the conference attendees and went quickly.

For those not familiar with the SIS, the Division produces information resources on a wide range of topics covering toxicology, environmental health, HIV/AIDS, drug and consumer product information, and disaster/emergency preparedness and response. The Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) component covers toxicology, environmental health, and chemistry. The Outreach and Special Populations Branch (OSPB) seeks to improve access to quality and accurate health information by underserved and special populations. The Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) helps provide online and downloadable information resources relevant to national emergency preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. SIS also coordinates many of the National Library of Medicine’s HIV/AIDS information activities.[1]

SIS has a very helpful page on their website that points to resources for K-12 science and health education. They work with teachers and scientific experts to provide free reliable resources to help introduce, reinforce, and supplement education programs. Categories on this page include: biology, careers, environmental health science, chemistry, forensics and medical technology, general health, genetics, health information tutorials, HIV/AIDS, lesson plans, projects, and Spanish language resources. For those of you with potential funding projects involving the K-12 population, teachers or school nurses, the resources are a good source of training materials and ideas. The K-12 page is located at:

Additionally, there are two relatively new offerings from the National Library of Medicine on environmental health for the K-12 population. The Environmental Health Student Portal ( introduces middle school students to environmental health science within the context of current middle school science curriculum standards. It is the newest edition to the family of NLM resources for students, with links to government and other selected sites.

The Environmental Health Student Portal provides a safe and reliable environment for teachers and students to study the following topics and their impact on health:

  • water pollution
  • climate change
  • chemicals
  • (coming soon) air pollution

Middle school teachers from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine, and the District of Columbia helped determine the site’s content as well as ways in which it can be incorporated into the classroom.

The Environmental Health Student Portal allows students to conduct research, play games related to environmental health, locate science fair projects, and view videos. Teachers can find relevant content and lesson plans from resources like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Science.

Tox Town, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) interactive guide to commonly encountered toxic substances, has added an “Indoor Air” topic. Most people in the United States spend a significant amount of time indoors. The indoor air we breathe can be more polluted than outdoor air.
Visit the new Indoor Air location pages, in both Spanish and English, to learn about possible indoor air pollutants and how these pollutants can increase the risk of illness.
Indoor Air:
Aire interior


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