Lourdes Health System officials are worried about a spike in respiratory illness, including pneumonia, in some communities where the state has implemented a new, statewide air-quality monitoring system.
The system, which is set to begin statewide by next month, is intended to help improve the health of residents in communities near the state’s borders.
But health officials say the system could have unintended consequences for vulnerable residents who live in communities farther from the nearest health center.
“We have been monitoring these populations, and in the past week we have seen an increase in respiratory illnesses that we are really concerned about,” said Lourde’s health system director, Dr. Eric Nardelli.
“It could be something that we don’t even realize is happening.”
Lourds air-monitoring system is a joint effort between the state and the Department of Health.
It has been a top priority for Lourdans officials since Lourdos air-pollution data was released in December.
It will be used to help the state track air quality changes in communities that have received federal funding to help pay for air-health initiatives.
But officials say they’re still not sure what causes these respiratory illnesses.
The state says the air monitoring system is not designed to monitor the entire population.
Rather, it measures a certain percentage of people who live within 15 miles of a health center and then sends out a notification when the percentage goes above that threshold.
For example, if the percentage of the population within that 15-mile radius is 2%, the air-measurement system would send out a notice when 2% of the people within that zone exceed the threshold.
The health system says the notification would notify residents if their concentration of pollutants exceeds that threshold, even though the percentage will not always go above it.
For instance, the health system said, if someone in that 15 mile radius was measured at 5.3 percent of their maximum level of pollutants, the notice would alert them to the fact that they may be over their limit and the health center would send them a notification that they should check for symptoms of respiratory illness.
However, that notification is meant to inform residents of potential health issues, not to notify them about potential health problems.
Louras air-level monitoring system can only send out alerts when the concentrations of certain pollutants go above a certain threshold.
It can’t tell residents that their air is unsafe to breathe.
Dr. Nardelles concerns about respiratory illnesses is echoed by health officials in several communities where Lourdis air-meteorological monitors have been used to monitor air quality.
In Tallahassee, officials are investigating a spike of respiratory illnesses in the city’s south-central neighborhoods.
According to Lourda officials, residents who have not been tested have been diagnosed with asthma and bronchitis, but are not sick enough to go to a hospital.
Brian Brown and Jennifer Koehler, the chief of respiratory medicine at the Tallahascociet Medical Center in Tallahasis, said they have seen no increase in symptoms among residents who haven’t been tested, though they are monitoring them closely.
“That’s a very concerning number,” said Dr. Brown.
“What we’re seeing is the level of pollution that’s being emitted.
There’s no correlation between air pollution and respiratory illness.”
Dr. Koehlis said that while air pollution can be dangerous, the data she is seeing is consistent with other studies that have shown that residents of poorer, older communities are more likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses than those living in wealthier areas.
“If you’re one of the poorest people in the state, and you’re living in a city that’s a bit higher in air pollution, you’re going to get a higher respiratory illness rate than if you’re a wealthier person,” said Koehls.
“The more you live in the poorer areas, the more asthma you’ll have.
The more you’re exposed to pollutants in the air, the higher your chances of developing a respiratory illness is.”
Drs Brown and Koehrls said their own research has shown that the respiratory health of people in poorer neighborhoods has been declining since they started using the air monitors in the early 2000s.
“When you look at the data, and what we have done over the last five years, and the last 20 years, there’s been a significant decrease in the rate of respiratory disease and respiratory symptoms in the poorest and least affluent neighborhoods,” said Brown.
In an interview, Drs Koehnels and Brown said they’re concerned that the air testing data could be misleading.
“I don’t know that that data is actually a very good indication of where the problem is,” said Scott Schumann, director of the Tallalahas County Health Department, a local government agency that provides health care for nearly 3 million people in northern Florida.
“And so we are looking at what’s going on. The