Having questioned the first answer under potpourri in “Jeopardy” in the last article, let’s do it again:
— The Health Department has completed the sampling for GenX, PFOS and PFOA in the St. Pauls area this past week when tests were submitted for seven private wells, three areas of swamp water, 10 ponds and two county/city water sources. As these contaminants get further incriminated in tainting vegetables, wildlife and other animals, water used to irrigate or be consumed by animals must be identified. Testing the swamp sites will allow us to keep an eye on the Lumber River Basin. It should be noted that wells in Robeson County five miles from the Chemours plant have been found to be contaminated, but below what is considered the current unhealthy level.
— Monday through April 8 is Public Health Week. It is a time to reflect on what are considered the 10 public health achievements in recent times, going back to 1900. Think of any? Some are a part of your everyday living. Here goes: immunizations; motor vehicle safety;; workplace safety; control of infectious diseases; decline in deaths from heart disease and stroke; safer and healthier foods; healthier mothers and babies; family planning; reduction of tobacco use; and fluoridation of drinking water to prevent dental caries, except in St. Pauls, which discontinued it a couple of years ago. Obviously there are a lot more players in public health than just a health department, but these collective efforts have netted a 25-year increase in life expectancy since 1900. That is until recently …
— The Children’s Health Index was released recently. There is no need to recount the many issues that Robeson County’s youngest population faces as they are woven into the overall health rankings. But there a couple of things I would like to note. First, 32 percent of our population are children compared with the state rate of 30 percent. In Robeson County 70.5 percent of the children live in a poor or low-income household, down from 72.6 percent in 2015. More than 30 percent of the children live in households that are food insecure. So the public schools did the right thing by providing free meals to all. And kudos to organizations such as Communities In Schools that provide a food program so the children can eat at other times than school hours.
Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.