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MAHONING, TRUMBULL COUNTIES Study: Citizens concerned about drinking water



Published: Thu, February 17, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The poll included opinions of 285 people who visited the Canfield Fair.

YOUNGSTOWN -- An informal study shows that the safety of drinking water, indoor air pollution and sprawl are the top environmental health concerns in the Mahoning Valley.

Healthy Valley Alliance, an organization of area health care and environmental professionals, government officials, and Youngstown State University faculty and staff, released a 56-page report Wednesday on local health concerns.

The organization polled 310 people at last year's Canfield Fair asking them their thoughts on the top three local environmental health concerns. Of those polled, 25 were not counted because they either didn't fill out the survey in its entirety or included more than three concerns.

Matthew Stefanak, Mahoning County health commissioner and an alliance member, acknowledged that the study was unscientific, but said it was a great way to get input from residents of Mahoning and Trumbull counties. Also, the 26-member committee based several recommendations on their own experiences.

Recommendations

The report's recommendations include:

UEliminating known threats to public water supplies.

UProviding services and education to reduce lead, radon, toxic molds and second-hand smoke.

UIncreasing the physical activity of Mahoning Valley residents by encouraging people to ride bicycles and walk.

UImplementing illicit discharges into watersheds that drain to surface water supplies.

UEncouraging communities to require sidewalks, open space and green space in new residential subdivisions.

"Making the Mahoning Valley a safe and healthy place to live and work is a key part to the future economic vitality of the region," Stefanak said.

The Mahoning County District Board of Health was one of eight agencies nationwide to receive a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address environmental health priorities, Stefanak said. The grant was for $20,000.

About one-quarter of those responding to the survey ranked safe drinking water as their greatest environmental health concern. The second biggest concern was indoor air quality, such as radon, lead, toxic molds, air pollutants and asthma triggers -- including dust mites and second-hand smoke.

The third biggest concern was sprawl, specifically the loss of green space and over-development. About one of every five respondents cited sprawl as the most pressing local environmental health problem.

The report -- available online at www.mahoning-health.org/healthreports-specialreports.asp -- urges health agencies to implement the recommendations.




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