Healthy, Clean, and Safe Physical Environments
Chisago County, MN

Humans interact with the environment constantly. 

These interactions affect quality of life, years of healthy life lived, and health disparities. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines environment, as it relates to health, as “all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related behaviors "(1).

"The truly healthy environment is not merely safe but stimulating." 

-William H. Stewart

Outdoor Air Quality  

Air quality in Minnesota currently meets federal standards, but even low and moderate levels of air pollution (that you can't always see) can contribute to serious illnesses and early death. 

Very small particles in the air - less than 2.5 micrometers wide - are called fine particles, or PM2.5. They can come from dust, dirt, soot, and smoke. They are small enough to be inhaled. People who are exposed to high levels of PM2.5 can have more heart and lung problems. 

Ozone is a colorless gas composed of three atoms of oxygen. In the upper atmosphere this gas helps protect the earth from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. At ground level, however, ozone can be harmful to human health and the environment.

This map estimates traffic exposure for Chisago County residents living within 300 meters of busy roads, where air pollution from motor vehicle traffic is highest. Busy roads are roadway segments that have annual average daily traffic counts above 10,000 cars or trucks. 

Lindstrom and Chisago City area have the highest percentage of residents living near busy roads, while North Branch,  Stacy and Wyoming also have a large number of residents living near busy roads. 

Water Quality 

The Chisago Lakes Lake Improvement District has a mission to preserve, protect and enhance water quality within the Chisago Lakes Watershed. This is accomplished through monitoring lakes for water quality, support adoption of uniform water protection ordinances, and participation in projects that will help meet the goals of the Chisago Lakes Chain of Lakes.

Chisago County staff monitor the following lakes located in the Chisago Lakes Lake Improvement District each year: Chisago, Green, Kroon, Little, Little Green, North Center, North Lindstrom, South Center, South Lindstrom and Spider Lakes. Volunteers monitor Bloom, Emily, Linn, Mattson, Ogren, Pioneer, School, Swamp and Wallmark Lakes. 

Visit the 2018 Water Quality Monitoring Report to see how the lakes rank from highest water quality to lowest quality.

Healthy Homes 

Most people spend at least half of every day inside their homes. A healthy, safe, affordable, and accessible home supports their basic needs and protects them from illness and injury. Unhealthy housing conditions may seem like cosmetic problems. But hazards can lurk where you least expect them: peeling paint can contain lead, too much moisture can result in mold, and clutter can shelter insects and rodents. And some deadly hazards are invisible, such as carbon monoxide and radon.

Emergency department (ED) visits for CO poisoning can represent a range of CO exposures, from suspected exposure to severe poisonings. These ED visits may result in treatment and release, in hospitalization, or in death. ED visits that subsequently result in hospitalization are counted as inpatient hospitalizations and are counted as an ED visit.

There is no safe level of lead. It is important to test for elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) because lead exposure often occurs with no identifiable symptoms. Lead testing is not universal in Minnesota. Children with risk factors for lead exposure are targeted for testing. 

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that naturally comes from the soil. Radon can enter any building—homes, offices, and schools—and result in a high indoor radon level. Radon gives off radioactive particles that, when breathed in, can damage the lining of the lungs.

This map represents the average annual testing rates in Chisago County. The highest rates of testing for radon is in Chisago Lake and Franconia Townships. 

What the radon level is in your home? Each home is unique and can have very different test results than even your neighbor’s home. The only way to know your radon risk is to test your home for radon. 

The Minnesota Department of Health has provided Chisago County with short term test kits to be offered for sale at the cost of $2.00, and include return shipping. The kits can be purchased at the Chisago County Environmental Services Department in the Government Center in Center City or at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility in North Branch (2).

References

1. Healthy People 2020. Environmental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/environmental-health

2. Minnesota Public Health Data Access. Radon. Retrieved from: https://data.web.health.state.mn.us/web/mndata/radon

Published: 1/15/20