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County surveying health of people near Illinois plant fire

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ROCKTON — Health officials are asking people affected by an Illinois chemical plant explosion to share their experiences, including whether they've experienced new or worsening health problems.

The Winnebago County Health Department is conducting the survey about the June 13 Chemtool plant fire in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Rockford Register Star reported.

The fire near Rockton in northern Illinois sent black smoke into the sky for days and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of homes. No one was injured.

The voluntary survey is available online until July 15.

"The goal of the survey is to better understand the impact of the Chemtool fire on the health of the individuals who were in the area," Administrator Sandra Martell said. That includes "first responders, volunteers and if you were passing by in that area."

Retired Bloomington attorney and Lincoln scholar, Guy Fraker donated a letter written by Lincoln in 1854, to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Martell said the survey is not intended to imply that hazardous materials were identified in the area. She said data will be analyzed and aggregated "to get a complete picture of what the impacts were to our community."

Survey participants are asked where they were during the fire and how they may have been exposed, such as coming in contact with debris, the air or the water. It also includes questions about effects on pets and livestock.

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