SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County has been selected as one of 15 counties to be involved in a federal survey of health in the nation, officials said Wednesday.
"We were one of the lucky ones chosen" for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey next year, Orange County Chief Health Officer Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday.
"We're hoping everyone who receives a survey will participate because this is such a unique opportunity," Chinsio-Kwong said.
The data from the survey will help federal officials craft public health policy and legislation, said Dr. Tony Nguyen, the chief medical officer of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For instance, the survey collected data about lead in paint and gas that ultimately got the harmful chemical out of the products and improving the nation's health, Nguyen said.
"We've seen a dramatic drop in lead levels in the United States" since then, Nguyen said.
The survey also led to the recommendations for fortified foods to include folic acid and iron, Nguyen said.
The surveyors will be in Orange County from Jan. 6 through March 15 with a high-tech exam center set up at the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Nguyen said.
Residents will be selected randomly for participation and receive invitations in the mail.
"Everything has to be randomized," Nguyen said. "Even within the home we may randomly select participants."
The agency takes privacy concerns "very, very seriously," Nguyen said, adding in the history of the survey since 1960 there has never been a breach.
"Anything personally identifiable is removed" from the data, Nguyen said.
The test results should be sent to participants about three to four months later, but officials will follow up sooner if they come across a medical issue that needs attention such as diabetes, Nguyen said.
Mercy Alvarenga, a public health advisor for the agency, said participants are paid for traveling to the exam center at the fairgrounds, and reimbursed for caretaking, if necessary, for children and the elderly.
"We do our best to accommodate to your schedule," Alvarenga said.