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Winnebago County Health Department Unveils New Health Survey Following Chemtool Fire

Outside of Winnebago County Health Department
Connie Kuntz
Outside of Winnebago County Health Department

The Winnebago County Health Department launched a health survey for those near the Chemtool site.

More than two weeks after the Chemtool fire erupted in Rockton, Illinois, the county health department is beginning to measure the health impacts through an online survey. To date, local public health officials have handled over 150 calls from the concerned community members.

Dr. Sandra Martell with the Winnebago County Health Department says the survey includes a wide net.

“And that includes first responders, volunteers, if you were shopping, if you were a passerby that area,” said Martell. “So the survey is open to everyone who may have felt that they've been impacted.”

The questionnaire was developed by toxicologists, epidemiologists and environmental health scientists based on previous chemical fires.

The survey will ask individuals to fill out questions related to personal information like: name, date of birth and address. Questions will also cover information like the location of the individual during fire and what if any contact did they have with materials like soot, debris, ash and water.

Martell says that survey is also collecting information related to any symptoms, including physical and mental health symptoms, any impacted individual may be experiencing. Anyone taking the survey can also expect to answer questions about affected livestock and pets.

The survey comes a week before the CDC, and the Illinois Department of Public Health will be in the region to run additional health surveys.

The questions are voluntary and all responses are confidential. Air quality samples measured by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency remain “stable” and below federal regulatory standards.

Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.