Thursday, June 30, 2005
Things to look for in a new home - for health reasons

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital

When people are buying a new house, there are a number of things that they look for in the house. It must be the right size. It must have the right layout of rooms. It must have the right conveniences. They may want central air conditioning. Everybody has a different set of things that they want to look at. However, there are some things that are health related that should be part of that inspection. Older houses have a higher likelihood of having lead in the old paint. This is especially true for houses older than the 1960s. Even though they might have been painted over several times, the old paint might still remain. For families with young children, this sets up a risk of lead poisoning. Some individuals may decide that they want to repaint the house to help prevent this. So they start with sanding the walls down. Lead in the dust from sanded walls can also cause lead poisoning when inhaled. This presents a danger to both adults and children. Old pipes can have lead joints. There can be lead in the water. This too can cause lead poisoning. Other things can be transmitted by water. Depending upon the well, there might be other impurities and bacteria in the water. This might be more likely if there has been a heavy amount of fertilizer used on the land where the well is located. City produced water is less likely to be a problem. Mold can also be an issue. Not all kinds of mold cause problems. However, you usually can’t be sure on a general house walk through which kind is dangerous and which kind is not. You need to be careful of any kind of mold. There are things that you cannot see. Radon is a dangerous gas that can be in the air of a home. However, it requires special testing. You might not notice it on a walk through of the house. Some people have strong cat allergies. Cat dander tends to stay in the air and carpet for as long as six months. If you are an individual with a cat allergy, you might be in for months of suffering, if you do not get the history of cats in the house in advance. We sometimes laugh about “bats in the belfry.” However, there are homes in the area with outside buildings that may be frequented by bats. Bats have a very high incidence of rabies. Individuals have developed rabies after contact with bats even when there has not been an obvious bite. As part of your checklist for looking at a new house, you should have health items at hand. We often will buy the house first and then realize that we should have looked at these things after we move in. The best time to address this is at the time you first look at the house. It may be important for your health.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.
Safe Sitter classes offered at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
Safe Sitter classes for girls and boys aged 11 to 13 will be offered at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The two part course will be held from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. on July 22 and 23. The Safe Sitter program is a medically-accurate instructional series that teaches youngsters how to handle emergencies when caring for younger children. The cost is $35. Participants are to bring a bag lunch. To register your son or daughter or your child’s babysitter, call 629-6611 ext. 2540. The goal of Safe Sitter is to reduce the number of accidental and preventable deaths among children being cared for by babysitters. Thousands of young adolescents across the country have been trained by Safe Sitter to handle life-threatening emergencies. All medical information will be taught by a certified professional. During the course, students get hands-on practice in basic life-saving techniques so they are prepared to act in a crisis. Instructors also provide tips to make sitters more confident caregivers. They teach safety and security precautions, such as what to do if a stranger comes to the door and when and how to call for help. They give information on child development and suggest age-appropriate activities. Participants will learn about the business aspects of babysitting. For more information about Safe Sitter, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611 extension 2540.

Alzheimer’s Association to hold family training session in Milford
The Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter will conduct an all-day summertime family care-giver training session in Sussex County at Heritage at Milford, 500 South DuPont Boulevard, on Thursday, July 14, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to Jamie Magee, Georgetown branch office coordinator for the Delaware Valley Chapter, the workshop is designed to help care-givers and family members of those with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia to cope with everyday and long-term needs of their impaired relative. While the training is free, pre-registration is required by calling 302-854-9788 or 1-800-272-3900. Magee notes that workshop topics will include a medical overview of Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, communication and behavioral symptoms, activities of daily living and safety, and legal and financial planning. The Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter provides a wide range of services to 268,000 individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders and their families including family care-giver training, a 24-7-365 days-a-year toll-free Contact Center/Helpline (1-800-272-3900), support groups and multicultural outreach.

Women’s Mobile Health Screening
The Women’s Mobile health Screening Van is on the road again and coming to Greenwood Public Library on Thursday, July 14. Free mammograms will be given to women who have scheduled an appointment. Women interested in receiving a free mammogram must call 1-888-672-9647 before July 14 to schedule an appointment. No one will receive services without an appointment. The van is administered by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. and offers high quality services delivered by professional medical staff. The Greenwood Public Library is located east of the railroad tracks, on the corner of Market Street (Rt. 16) and Mill Street. Call 349-5309 for information.