2010 Feb. 21: FL Pensacola (Escambia County): Air pollution: Nationwide study paints Escambia in negative light

Area’s health in question

2010 Feb. 21: FL Pensacola (Escambia County): Air pollution: Nationwide study paints Escambia in negative light

Louis Cooper • lcooper@pnj.com • February 21, 2010

If you live in Escambia County, you likely drink too much alcohol, don’t exercise often enough and breathe bad air.

At least, as compared to Santa Rosa County and the rest of the state, according to a report released last week.
In a nationwide, county-by-county study of health rankings by the University of Wisconsin released Wednesday, Escambia County came out near the bottom third of Florida counties. In "health outcomes," which is determined by morbidity and mortality rates, Escambia ranked 47th of 67 counties. In "health factors," Escambia ranked 43rd of 67.
Santa Rosa County came in 10th on both lists.

Dr. John Lanza, director of the Escambia County Health Department, said the information in the Wisconsin study is nothing new to local health officials. He said the group UnitedEscambia — a collaboration among the United Way of Escambia County, the Partnership for a Healthy Community and the Health Department — was formed in 2006 to address such issues.
"It’s going to take 20 or 30 years to correct some of the problems that we have," Lanza said. "Why are we not graduating more than 50 percent of our children in high school? Why is our environment not as good as it should be? What can we do to improve health care? Why do we have such a high poverty level? In the grand scheme, everything relates to health."
Sandy Park, administrator for the Santa Rosa Health Department, welcomed the study’s findings for her county.
"I am pleased with the overall report," Park said. "I know there is always room for improvement, and look forward to continuing the mission of the Department of Health by increasing and continuing our programs to promote healthy behaviors and healthy lifestyles."
The Wisconsin study gathered data from a number of sources, including the National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medicare, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Air quality a concern

Escambia did especially poorly in the areas of environmental health factors. It ranked near the bottom of the list, 65th of 67 counties. Only Gadsden, Jefferson and Baker counties ranked lower.

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