Victoria Chau, Sharleen Traynor, Katryne Lukens-Bull, Grazyna Pawlowicz, Gale Tucker-Disney, Aaron Hilliard, David Wood
September 13, 2011
Duval County (Jacksonville, FL, USA) has a long history of environmental health hazards, especially prevalent within its urban core, referred to as Health Zone 1. In 2009, the Duval County Health Department conducted a survey of awareness of and actual exposure to methylmercury among women in the county. The survey found that women with more education or higher incomes had a higher awareness of potential mercury exposures. Furthermore, women in the urban core were less aware and had higher exposure than those in more affluent areas. This study assesses the mercury-exposure awareness and education by healthcare providers serving women of child-bearing age. We surveyed 28 women’s health clinic offices. Sixty-one percent (17/28) indicated that they provide mercury exposure education to female patients, either written or verbal. Of these, only half (8/17) provide written education materials. Ninety-three percent of the providers indicated that a benefit to providing education on mercury exposure, is having “healthier developing fetuses and young children in the community”. Two barriers identified by providers to offering information on mercury exposure and risk were (a) a lack of interest among patients, and (b) a lack of clear, understandable educational materials. The long-term goal of our * -8project is to develop and distribute culturally effective, low literacy materials for distribution by health clinics, to document the increased awareness of mercury exposure risks, and to lessen the adverse health outcomes that may result from mercury exposure among vulnerable population groups in Duval County.