Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Heating Crisis in Maine


We have been quite busy the past few weeks with budget deliberations, the annual fall public health and medical conferences and meetings, and addressing some public health brushfires (hepatitis A outbreak, etc) that are exacerbated by a staffing shortage.

Despite these challenges, it is important we continue to address emerging health issues. One of these is the current heating and economic crisis. Mainers are more dependent on oil for heating their homes than any other state. So, the current economic and heating crisis has a number of public health ramifications.

Three ramifications are the focus of a recent health advisory: carbon monoxide poisoning, hypothermia, and respiratory health secondary to wood-burning. This health advisory and other fact sheets and information can be found on our Stay Healthy This Winter webpage at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/heat_2008.shtml.

Additionally, Maine CDC funded a telephone survey this fall of about 32,000 Mainers on a variety of heating and energy issues, including on transportation, carbon monoxide, and commuting issues. The results of this survey, along with district results, can also be found on the Stay Healthy This Winter webpage.

Our epidemiologists are also tracking more intensely illness and deaths due to these three major issues - hypothermia, carbon monoxide, and respiratory health. The information gathered and resulting analyses we hope will inform future efforts.

We hope these materials and efforts can help the many Maine organizations and people who are working hard on assuring a safety net for people this winter. Let us know if there are additional ideas you have!


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