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Educating Residents about a New Risk for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning NEW

An off-road vehicle bogged down in mud

What is the problem?

In May 2012, three adults died from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning after their off-roading vehicle became stuck in a mudbog in central Maine. While CO poisoning has long been a public health concern in Maine, off-roading was not among the list of potentially risky activities included in the state health department's public education efforts about preventing CO poisoning.

What did Tracking do?

Immediately responding to the deaths, Maine Tracking Program staff used data from their case-based CO poisoning surveillance system to identify a similar event that occurred in 2010. Using information about the two events, the tracking program identified off-roading as a more significant risk for CO poisoning than previously thought. Within a day of the 2012 deaths, tracking staff began educating reporters about CO poisoning, providing them guidance about preventing CO poisoning while off-roading to include in the ongoing news coverage of the deaths.

Improved public health

A few weeks following the deaths, the tracking program issued its annual advisory about preventing CO poisoning during summertime activities. This advisory included specific CO poisoning prevention advice about off-roading. These recommendations are now part of Maine's standard health advisory issued each spring.




Preventing childhood lead poisoning

Girl running past paint-chipped windows

What is the problem?

The number of newly identified cases of childhood lead poisoning in Maine has decreased steadily over the last five years. But lead poisoning continues to threaten children's health and development. To continue reducing the number of cases of lead poisoning, the Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program needed to understand more about the state's at risk children.

What did Tracking do?

The Maine Tracking Program used geo-coding and mapping to analyze childhood lead poisoning data. This fresh look at an old problem shed light on some previously unknown critical risk factors. For example, the new analysis revealed that 40% of all childhood lead poisonings occur in just five urban areas. Further probing showed that within those five urban areas, more than 80% of lead-poisoned children lived in rental housing. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau then allowed the tracking program to look by census blocks at the percentage of houses built before 1950. This revealed streets and whole neighborhoods where children were most at risk.

Improved public health

The Maine Tracking Program gave the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program an advanced understanding of lead poisoning distribution throughout the state. Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention could now shift resources where they were most needed. Community groups in the five urban areas where 40% of childhood lead poisonings occur could now receive contracts from the Maine CDC for targeted prevention activities in their communities. The contracts help to educate local landlords and tenants about the dangers of lead paint dust and help landlords test their units for lead dust. After just one year of targeted outreach, about 240 rental units were tested for lead dust. Landlords whose units tested high for lead dust were given support or were enrolled in the Lead Hazard Control Program. The Maine Tracking Program has been critical in helping prevent lead poisoning in Maine children.





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