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With climate change a steady threat, OHA monitors summertime health hazards

 A vehicle approaches through wildfire smoke.
Andy Nelson
The Register-Guard
Among the events concerning Oregon Health Authority in the summertime, wildfire smoke inhalation and air quality-related respiratory illness are tops on the new summer-related injuries and illness data dashboard.

The Oregon Health Authority has launched an interactive data center which enables anyone to monitor trends for common summertime hazards.

Heat-related illness, near fatal drownings, wildfire smoke inhalation, and air quality-related respiratory illness. OHA’s new dashboard provides real-time data from emergency departments on these summer-related injuries and illnesses.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Ali Hamade said as our world continues to warm, it’s important for Oregonians to practice prevention.

“We’re gonna’ start having more heat-- possibly more wildfires. And while each event might not be directly related to climate change, overall, these will increase with time as a result of climate change,” he said.

The data on the new dashboard will enable public health and hospitals to anticipate when and where resources will be needed to help Oregonians adapt. Hamade said, the new data dashboard contains interactive graphs which show total daily counts of emergency department and urgent care visits associated with the summer-related hazards. Users can select data sets by year, going to back to 2018.

Graph from OHA's new summer-related hazards dashboard.
Oregon Health Authority
“Injuries such as heat-related illness and smoke-related respiratory distress are, unfortunately, all too common now as climate change-related threats have become the new reality in Oregon,” said Tom Jeanne, M.D., M.P.H., deputy state health officer and epidemiologist at OHA.

The data come from reports to the Oregon ESSENCE database. ESSENCE – Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics. The dashboard will be updated weekly throughout the summer.

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.