DPCAC Discusses Health Effects in Industrial Communities
Deer Park Community Advisory Council (DPCAC) recently heard about the stresses on health that may occur in a town with chemical plants and refineries. Kelsey-Seybold’s Dr. Victor Simms said that exposure to pollutants in the environment may impact health. Though air quality has improved over the last 10 years, pollutants like ozone and particulate matter are still of concern. Both may exacerbate asthma. By decreasing lung function, particulate matter may also affect the heart. Efforts to reduce both pollutants continue.
While environmental exposures like these may impact health, they are not the only factors of interest in industrialized areas. Simms said shift work is necessary in industrial facilities but make it difficult to achieve quality sleep. Members were surprised to hear that mixing day and night shifts over time is less of a challenge to good sleep than working straight nights. Simms said obesity, poor diet, smoking, accidents, and physical inactivity also contribute to health problems.
In response to DPCAC’s request to learn how the chronic conditions in this area compare to those in non-industrial areas, Simms shared information from 4 Kelsey-Seybold Clinics: two where plant employees are more likely to live, and two on the other side of Houston.
In Pasadena and Katy, the most common chronic condition that brought patients to the clinic was asthma. In Clear Lake, it was hypertension, and in the Willowbrook area, it was cancer. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was the second most common chronic condition at the clinics in Pasadena and Clear Lake. Cancer was second in Katy and cholesterol in the Willowbrook area. Heart disease, the most common cause of death in Texas and in Harris County, was the 6th most common reason people with a chronic condition visited all four clinics. Cancer was the 7th most common reason in Pasadena and Clear Lake. Simms emphasized that the data are interesting and generate discussion, but there is no information on the causes of the differences between one clinic and the others.
DPCAC will be taking tours in March and April, but visitors are invited to the next regular meeting on Monday, June 3 for a Show and Tell about what plants make. For details about the 6 p.m. meeting, contact the DPCAC facilitator at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please RSVP by Sun. night, Feb. 17 to Anja Borski at email@example.com