To the Editor,
As the Assistant Director of Health Protection for Interior Health, I would like to correct some information presented in a letter by Erdmann Tuemp-Millyard (Statistics Unique to Lillooet, June 6) that links arsenic in local wells to rising mortality rates in Lillooet. On June 18, 2011, I sent a letter to the writer after a request for information about mortality rates in Lillooet. I presume this is the Interior Health report referenced in the letter to the editor.
Nowhere in my correspondence did I reference arsenic in Lillooet’s drinking water sources. The information provided was solely the mortality rates as requested. It is unfortunate that the letter writer used the information to make a link with arsenic in the wells, as it is misleading and, in fact, incorrect. There is no Interior Health report that reaches such a conclusion. In addition, the information provided encompassed the entire Lillooet Health Area, of which only about half the population live in the area serviced by the District of Lillooet’s water systems.
Health status, disease rates and mortality rates in communities are affected by a combination of factors including social and economic conditions such as income, access to education, health services, employment opportunities and lifestyle factors. To link mortality rates to one cause is far too simplistic.
I encourage the residents of Lillooet to educate themselves about the factors that influence mortality rates, and separate this from the current discussion regarding water quality and the solutions being proposed.
Assistant Director of Health Protection,