Health Notes

May 09, 2008

WIC to supply only BPA-free products

As a result of recent warnings about the hazards of some chemicals used in manufacturing plastic products for babies and children, the Howard County Health Department has decided to only supply products free of BPA, or bisphenol-A, to participants in its WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program.

The county's WIC program, which serves about 2,900 clients a month, is believed to be the first in Maryland to enact a BPA-free policy.

BPA is used to make polycarbonate, a clear, rigid plastic used in baby bottles, "sippy" cups, teethers, food and drink packaging, water bottles, toys and other impact-resistant products.

The plastic can degrade over time, especially when heated or washed with hot water, causing leaching of BPA. The chemical has been suspected of causing early puberty, breast and prostate changes, cancer, diabetes, fertility problems and behavioral disorders.

The Howard County Health Department suggests limiting the use of plastic food packaging and serving containers to those labeled with a #1, #2, #4 or #5 in the recycling triangle; plastics marked with a #7 or #3 should be avoided by children and adults, according to a news release issued by the department.

Health plan gets state award

County Executive Ken Ulman and Health Department officials have received a Local Agency Award for effectiveness in government from the Maryland Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration.

The award, given in recognition of the Health Howard Plan, honors a federal, state, local or nonprofit agency for innovation in public policy, financial management, human resources, business processes or information technology.

The Healthy Howard Plan, which is to begin providing services in October, was chosen for its creative approach to providing disadvantaged Howard County residents with access to health care.

What to expect from Medicare

The Howard County Department of Citizen Services' Office on Aging will present "Medicare 101: What You Can Expect from Medicare -- The Basics" at 7 p.m. May 14 at the Pastoral Center of the Church of the Resurrection, 3175 Paulskirk Drive, Ellicott City.

The workshop will review how Medicare works, how to enroll and the benefits and the role of supplemental health insurance.

Information or to reserve a place: Marte Bode, 410-461- 9111, Ext. 204.

"Medicare 102: Why Medicare Isn't Enough" will be offered at 7 p.m. May 21 at the Pastoral Center of the Church of the Resurrection.

The workshop will focus on gaps in Medicare coverage and how to bridge them. Discussion will cover Medigap plans and employer group coverage, as well as Medicare Health Plan options.

Information on Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage and prescription drug resources will be offered.

Admission is free. Information or registration: Marte Bode, 410-461-9111, ext. 204.

The workshop will be repeated at 7 p.m. May 22 at the Bain Center.

Information or registration: 410-313-7391.

Send health announcements to Fax: 410-715-2816.

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