Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Is Here--and So Is the Ozone

The Utah Departments of Health (UDOH) and Environmental Quality (DEQ) have developed resources and recommendations to help Utahns protect their health during ozone season. Ozone is created by the sun’s heat and light acting on gases and pollution in the atmosphere.

Ozone levels are often difficult to predict, but are typically highest during hot afternoon hours. Ozone is created by the sun’s heat and light acting on gases and pollution in the atmosphere. Ozone levels are often difficult to predict, but are typically highest during hot afternoon hours.

Exposure to high summer ozone levels can cause coughing, wheezing and chest tightness; worsen allergy and asthma symptoms; and irritate the eyes, nose and throat. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on a person’s sensitivity to ozone and can be felt immediately or as late as one or more days after exposure. People with heart and lung conditions, children, seniors, and people who work or exercise outdoors can be more sensitive to ozone.

“The most serious effects of ozone air pollution come from heavy or prolonged breathing of outdoor air when ozone levels are above the federal standard of .075 ppm,” said Division of Air Quality (DAQ) toxicologist Steve Packham, Ph.D. “It is important to check current ozone levels before outdoor activities, and especially before exercising outdoors.”  

To help residents plan ahead and adjust their activities during periods of high pollution, DAQ provides air quality alerts through its UtahAir app (available for free download in both the Apple and Android apps stores), website (www.airquality.utah.gov), toll-free messages (1-800-228-5434), and regular email alerts (www.deq.utah.gov/NewsNotices).

The agencies have developed materials to help Utahns assess their sensitivity to ozone. Available online, they include Recommendations for Outdoor Physical Activity During Ozone Season (May–September), and an ozone tracking tool. The ozone tool can be used to track outdoor activities, ozone levels, and symptoms experienced.

“Ozone affects each person differently,” said Kellie Baxter, UDOH Asthma Program. “Monitor ozone levels and the symptoms you experience during outdoor activities to determine what level of ozone you are sensitive to,” she added. “This will help you decide when to move your activities indoors to reduce your exposure.” To help Utahns plan outdoor activities during ozone season, UDOH and DEQ guidelines recommend:

                •  The best time for outdoor summer physical activity is before noon or after 6:00 p.m.
                •  If you are physically active between noon and 6:00 pm:
                                O  Consider light to moderate activity (e.g., walking instead of running).
                                O  Consider indoor activities.
                •  Discuss physical activities with your doctor, especially if you have lung disease or a heart condition.

A copy of the physical activity recommendations, ozone air quality fact sheets, and ozone tracking sheet are available at www.health.utah.gov/asthma or by calling the UDOH Health Resource Line at 1-888-222-2542. Additional information on the health effects of ozone and what individuals can do to protect their health is available at www.health.utah.gov/healthyair.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fee Increases Coming for Some Utah Vital Records

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Beginning July 1, 2014, the fee schedule will change for some services provided by all state and local vital records offices in Utah. Utah’s State Agency Fees and Internal Service Fund Rate Authorization and Appropriations, House Bill 8, was approved during the 2014 legislative session and provides for the support and operation of state government for fiscal year 2015. Janice Houston, State Registrar and Director of the Utah Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records and Statistics explains, “The fee increase is the first in five years and is necessary to keep up with rising costs outside the department’s control.”

Some of those increased costs include paper and the need to replace aging computer infrastructure. The new fee schedule increases the cost for some copies, abstracts and searches for vital records.  The schedule below lists some of the services affected.

Initial certified copy of birth or voluntary declaration of paternity (Abstract)
        $20.00 for the first copy (was $18.00)

Book copy of birth certificate (if abstract is available)
        Births after 1999-no book copy is available
        $25.00 for the first copy (was $21.00)

Initial certified copy of a death or stillbirth
        $18.00 for the first copy (was $16.00)

Initial certified copy of marriage or divorce (Abstract only)
$18.00 for the first copy (was $16.00)

Additional copies for all certificates (must be same record, ordered on same day)

Hemp Extract Registry

For a complete fee schedule, new application forms, and local vital records locations and office hours, please visit http://health.utah.gov/vitalrecords/ or call (801) 538-6105 for more information.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

UDOH Campaign Urges HPV Vaccine for Ages 11 and Up

(SALT LAKE CITY) – You can’t protect your children from everything, but thanks to the HPV vaccine, you can protect them from HPV-related cancers. This is the driving force behind a new campaign launched by the Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) Cancer Control Program (UCCP) and Utah’s local health departments. Sponsors include Tanner Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) and University of Utah Health Care, whose pediatricians tell parents about the importance of getting their sons and daughters vaccinated.

“There is a significant gap between awareness of the HPV vaccine and knowledge of it,” said Rebecca Ward, Health Educator, UDOH.  “The goal of this campaign is to let parents know the vaccine is cancer prevention, and to increase HPV vaccination rates among adolescents up to age 18.”

The vaccine protects against cervical and several other cancers in both males and females and is recommended for both at age 11 or 12. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Survey, Utah ranks third-lowest in the nation for girls ages 13-17 who have completed the three-dose series of shots. It also found Utah’s numbers for vaccination among boys are so low they can’t be compared to national rates.

“We hope this campaign will encourage parents to talk to their child's pediatrician about HPV,” said Dr. Ellie Brownstein, a University of Utah Health Care pediatrician featured in the campaign. “The vaccine is a safe and easy way to protect our kids from one more health risk."

“We’re fortunate to have this vaccine available,” said Gary Edwards, Executive Director, Salt Lake County Health Department.  “The cancers and complications caused by HPV can have lifelong consequences for children and adults. The HPV vaccine can help significantly reduce these infections.”

Parents with questions about the HPV vaccine should contact their health care provider, pharmacist or local health department. For more information and to see the ads, visit www.cancerutah.org/hpv.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Adults With Arthritis: Physical Activity Really Works!

(Salt Lake City) – Every day in Utah, eight adults aged 65 and older are hospitalized due to serious injuries they’ve suffered in a fall. Many of those hurt will never go home, as falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for Utah seniors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that in 2012, adults with arthritis were one-and-a-half times more likely to fall and be injured than adults without the disease. Fortunately, the debilitating effects of arthritis are manageable, and falls are largely preventable with evidence-based exercise programs designed especially for older adults with conditions such as arthritis.

Contrary to the belief that exercise worsens joint pain, the best prescription for arthritis is exercise or physical therapy to improve strength, gait, and balance. Studies show that low to moderate physical activity can reduce pain, and improve function and mood.

Enhance®Fitness is a group exercise program sponsored by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and developed by experts to help older adults get active and stay independent. Participants say the class is fun and dynamic, and the CDC says it and similar evidence-based exercise programs reduce the risk of falling by 14-37%.

Theresa Brandon of Draper joined Enhance®Fitness because she felt her balance “was really off for a healthy 62-year-old.” After just three months, Theresa reported, “Enhance®Fitness saved my health care plan hundreds of dollars, saved me many expensive copays, accelerated my return to normal balance, and produced normal test results in balance for my age and health.”

According to the Senior Functional Fitness test, more than half of all Enhance®Fitness participants show improved agility and balance, and more than three out of every four seniors show improved arm and leg strength after four months of participation. Theresa says, “I have seen three other people in that class who came in with walkers and now use canes or walk by themselves. This class is valuable beyond words.”

Many people with arthritis may feel hesitant to begin exercising because of their pain, stiffness, and simply not knowing what and how much to do. Appropriate activities include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, and water aerobics. 

For more information on how to manage arthritis, visit http://health.utah.gov/arthritis/, or contact Brittany Brown, UDOH, at (801) 538-6215 orbrittanybrown@utah.gov.. To find out how you can attend an Enhance®Fitness class in your area, contact Nichole Shepard, Salt Lake County Active Aging, at (385) 468-3083 or NShepard@slco.org, or visit http://slco.org/aging/pdf/WebCalendar.pdf.

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