Laboratory testing is important to test, identify, and treat health hazards. In the event that a threat is discovered, laboratory workers must confirm the potential hazard and determine its level of danger. Typical hazards that workers test for are chemical, biological, and nuclear agents as well as food borne illnesses and other infectious diseases. However, this is not the only job for labs. Nearly 15,000 new workers have been employed in many new labs that have opened in order to develop treatments for germs such as Ebola. Since 2001, the United States government has spent nearly $19 billion on finding treatments and preventing biological attacks.
Besides these laboratory workers, there are other groups that are involved in detecting and testing potential health hazards. The Emergency Preparedness-funded Laboratory Response Network owned by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health officials work together to carry out public health surveillance in response to emergency situations. In this network, human, food, veterinary, and environmental testing is done to determine if they are at the correct health standards. The main goal of these experts is to protect the community from potential threats that may arise. For example, laboratories commonly test water safety at various swimming areas to ensure that the water is not contaminated or dangerous.
Swim water, including pools, beaches, and rivers, contain many germs that could lead to harmful diseases if not checked. In the event of detecting polluted water, samples taken by the Environmental Protection Agency will be tested at laboratories to check if bacteria levels are dangerously high. There are a few ways that water can become unsafe to swim in, some of these causes not as obvious to the public. Pollution is a major contributor to unsafe water, but stormwater and agricultural runoff are other factors that can harm swimming water. Signs will be posted if water quality is not safe and the local health department can provide answers to any lingering questions regarding the swim areas.