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County residents able to track county health data

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 11:11 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 11:12 a.m. CST

Jasper County residents can now access environmental and health data on a county and statewide basis, following the Iowa Department of Public Health’s launch of Iowa Public Health Tracking.

IPHT is a state-of-the-art environmental and public health tracking program, and part of a national initiative led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to close the gap in what is known about the impact of environmental hazards on health.

“There has been a fundamental gap in the knowledge of how and the extent to which environmental hazards affect health,” said Brenda Smith, director of Skiff Home Care and Jasper County Public Health. “For example, chronic disease accounts for 70 percent of deaths in the United States. There have been links reported between certain chronic diseases and environmental hazards, but whether there are more is still unclear. This new public health tracking project will help experts discover if there are additional links between environmental hazards and health outcomes.”

IPHT is a web-based system that tracks key environmental hazards and health problems statewide and in many instances, by county. The data will improve understanding of hazards and lead to actions that may prevent chronic illnesses. With IPHT, Jasper County residents will be able to access both environmental data and health outcome data simultaneously, including, for example, asthma, carbon monoxide and heart attack hospitalization rates; air pollution trends for ozone and particulate matter; drinking water contaminants, such as arsenic, in public water systems; cancer rates; birth defect rates; and childhood lead levels and the age of housing.

Iowa is one of 23 states to receive funding from the CDC to build tracking networks and conduct pilot projects to improve knowledge of potential links between environmental hazards and health effects. For more information and to access the Iowa IPHT, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/EHS/EPHT.aspx. To visit the CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, go to www.cdc.gov/ephtracking.

To learn more about Skiff Medical Center, call (641) 78-SKIFF (787-5433) or visit www.skiffmed.com or www.facebook.com/skiffmed.