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Cincinnati Health Department Plans Healthy Homes Program

            Occupational Health Nursing MS student, Diane Busch-James, spent the summer working with the City of Cincinnati Health Department to plan the implementation of a CDC funded Healthy Homes program for the low-income population of Lower Price Hill.  The program addresses home issues that affect health such as mold, rodent and cockroach infestation, pet dander, smoking, lead, sewer gas, mercury, formaldehyde and other VOC’s, child safety, fire safety and injury prevention in the elderly.

            The CDC estimates that there are more than 6 million substandard houses and apartments in the U.S.  These conditions place the residents at increased risk for asthma, injuries, falls, childhood lead poisoning and other toxin induced illnesses.  The Healthy Homes program takes a comprehensive approach and requires the Health Department to look at the entire home environment.  It is felt that education and remediation can significantly reduce the exposures and thereby reduce the costs and number of medical and emergency visits, and, overall, provide the residents with a higher quality of life. 

            The program incorporates concepts such as the use of Integrated Pest Management.  The use of pesticides and rodenticides has added to resident exposures to chemicals, particularly in multi-family housing units. IPM teaches residents elimination of sources of food, water and harborage and choice of the least toxic products to destroy the invading insects or vermin.  The program advocates resident uses of cleaning products that are less hazardous, particularly those that give off less VOC’s, but are still effective in the elimination of dust, allergens and infectious agents.

             Revisions were suggested for the Sanitation Code to incorporate Healthy Homes concepts.  The program will not depend on voluntary compliance. Owners will be cited for leaking structural and plumbing issues.  Ventilation will be required in all bathrooms to remove excessive moisture and with all gas appliances, dryers, stoves, and heaters.  Residents will be cited for excessive clutter and cleanliness issues that contribute to infestation. 

             Research was completed in locating successful existing programs throughout the U.S.  and in finding educational materials appropriate to the population. Development of understandable, population appropriate materials is essential to increasing the knowledge of the residents and to the overall success of the program.  Many cities have implemented the program with success and they are willing to share the details of their programs. With materials provided, the Health Department will be able to contact other health departments for information and easily develop the educational component of the program. 

            Theory-based interventions were also addressed, as the program will require both increased community awareness along with individual interventions.  The sanitarians were given a basic knowledge of Diffusion of Innovations Theory and the Transtheoretical Model.  These theories will help with dissemination of information into the community and with individual behavior changes.  Of particular concern in this program is the exposure to secondhand smoke in the home.  Interventions will include increasing the resident’s knowledge of the effects of secondhand smoke on children and referrals to smoking cessation programs.

            Overall, much was learned from the employees at the Health Department who are dedicated and committed to improving our health.  They spend many hours inspecting city restaurants, tattoo parlors, some very nasty residences, and even our own University dining facilities.  Many thanks to Assistant Health Commissioner, Dr. Camille Jones, who heads the Community Health and Environmental Services Division and who promotes collaborative efforts with the University Education and Research Center. 

Heat Stress Sensor Project: Occupational Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Hygiene learn new techniques

Two new sensor technologies are being added to the research capability of the ERC.

The first is an ingestible pill sensor which can transmit signal from within the subject to a remote monitoring device. The monitoring device can be jacked to a computer or can be wireless. The pill is of the size of a big capsule and transmits the core temperature of the subject who swallows it. A single receiving monitor can be used to record readings from multiple pills. The monitor can be used to either display real time data or record data that can be retrieved later. The pills are calibrated by the manufacturer. Each pill comes with a serial number and model number that identifies the calibration parameters for that pill. At use, the pill is registered in the monitor.  
The second research tool is a band heart rate sensor. It is much like the one used in sporting activities.  Data from this sensor is recorded in the same monitor as the heat pill. Data for a selected heat pill and heart rate sensor can be displayed on a screen in real-time.  
In August, Jessica Ramsey and Chad Dowell from NIOSH provided hands-on training to UC students Amy Turner, Ashutosh Mani and Joe Hoffman (EOH) and Dr. Kristen Musolin (OMR). The new tools are in Dr. Amit Bhattachary’s lab in Kettering. 

Interdisciplinary trip to West Virginia

Several ERC students and faculty participated in an interdisciplinary trip to scenic West-Virginia in June.  The destinations included NIOSH in Morgantown, Beckley Mine Health and Safety Academy, and Beckley demonstration coal mine. In Morgantown, the group was greeted by several former ERC students who currently work at NIOSH in Morgantown.



Students join NORA seminar, North Carolina ERC

Students from Occupational Health Nursing and Environmental and Occupational Hygiene participated in the presentation by Dr. John Howard, former director of NIOSH and currently a special consultant to the agency. He discussed the changing nature of work and workers.  There was lively discussion during the session, viewed in the Howard Ayer Computer Laboratory on August 26.


Interdisciplinary Team Accomplishments


Community-based information resource
Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center
Industrial Hygiene Masters students, Joe Hoffman and Amy Turner, initiated a project with the Cincinnati Interfaith Worker’s Center, an organization that strives to educate and assist low-wage and immigrant workers. Workers that belong to the Center and Center leadership indicated that they would like health and safety information about workplace hazards. A bulletin board with OSHA information on subjects including amputations, electrical safety, portable generator safety, and the dangers of lead exposure was created and installed at the Center. All information was made available in English and Spanish.   A question/concern envelope was also placed on the board so that workers interested in receiving more information on specific topics or with a question about their workplace could get answers. Occupational Health Nursing MS student Diane Busch-James and hygiene MS student Don Goins provided support work on this project. Drs. Carol Rice and Sue Ross have provided faculty mentoring on this project.
During the coming year, we will keep the bulletin board restocked with information, attend monthly membership meetings and answer questions from the members.
Responsibility for answering questions is shared among the ERC disciplines: nursing, medicine, safety and hygiene. In response to request for medical resources, the occupational medicine residents are organizing a list of potential local health care resources, including health care providers, health care organizations and health information sources in the Greater Cincinnati area.  

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