Residents may need screenings

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AIKEN --- Health screenings for Graniteville residents affected by the 2005 train wreck and chemical spills continue as the state Department of Health and Environmental Control tries to reduce the effect of the disaster on the community.

The Graniteville Recovery and Chlorine Epidemiology project, or GRACE, has continued contacting residents to identify those who need medical care and to get them to an area physician, said Dr. Erik Svendsen, a DHEC epidemiologist.

Project findings so far include:

- 958 residents are enrolled in a health registry, with 340 health screenings done in the past three years.

- The total number of victims is put at 1,384, with 851 of those receiving immediate medical attention.

- 55 percent of residents seen in the first round of screenings in 2005 were recommended for additional medical care for at least one condition.

- More than half of the 259 residents in first-round screenings tested positive for decreased lung function.

- 26 percent of those in the first-round screening had some form of inflamed airways.

- About 33 percent of those in the first-round screening showed evidence of possible asthma.

Although future health screenings are not planned, anyone who lived or worked in Graniteville around the time of the accident can register with the Aiken County Helpline, Dr. Svendsen said.

Residents and workers can use the help line to provide contact information and stories about where people were during the event. Correct phone numbers and addresses are pertinent to keeping the project findings accurate, because follow-up calls are made.

"This is not a study or research, but a project to help in the recovery of the disaster, which takes a lot longer than the response," Dr. Svendsen said. "The idea is we're trying to identify everyone who has been impacted by this to see if there's unusual patterns of death or disease."

The GRACE project was initially funded by DHEC with $182,000 in 2005. Additional DHEC funds and contributions from Aiken County total $500,000.

"We'll continue this until we believe the community has recovered," Dr. Svendsen said.

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.

HEALTH REGISTRY


Call the Aiken County Helpline at 211 to sign up for the registry or volunteer for the project.


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