Monday, September 3, 2012

Asthma takes toll on Basin residents - Oil and Gas Development

Mary Bernard, Vernal Express
The just-released Asthma Burden Report for 2012 shows that 9 percent of adults and 7 percent of children have asthma in Utah.

Every day a statewide average of 20 people struggle with asthma attacks potentially so severe that they need treatment at a hospital.

What does this mean for the TriCounty Health Department regional residents of Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties?

Lost work days, lost school days, and lost lives –— the cost of asthma to our communities is cumulative.

On Thursday the TriCounty Asthma Coalition met to look into the report numbers in relation to local asthma treatment numbers.

Findings indicate that Uinta Basin asthma sufferers are twice as likely to be hospitalized; 57 basin residents per 10,000 people in population versus the state average 25 people.

Emergency numbers for children remain protected by law, but among school-aged children 41 percent cite asthma as the cause for missed school days.

Locally, children and adult asthma sufferers who go to the emergency room during an asthma attack are more likely to be admitted.

“The fact that our residents with asthma are going to the emergency department and being hospitalized so often means we need to mobilize our community partners and work together on this issue,” said Jeramie Tubbs, TriCounty spokesperson.

Educating the public about persistent risk factors says Tubbs is way to reduce asthma’s impact.

Risk factors like; adult sufferers are more often obese, while children with asthma are more likely to have parents who smoke.

Often lifetime sufferers are exposed to risk factors that are work-related like chemicals, dust, exhaust emissions, and smoke, according to the report.

The Uintah Basin is home to the largest oil and natural fields in the West and too, the basin Winter Ozone Study: a $5million scientific research analysis of reportedly some of the worst air quality in the U.S.

Preliminary findings of the study indicate a strong link between the extraction industry and air quality citing specific two things: “volatile organic compounds and nitrogen” says Joseph Shaffer, TriCounty director...


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