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WHAT IS IT?


Environmental public health tracking is the ongoing collection, integration, analysis, and interpretation of data about the following factors:
  • Environmental hazards
  • Exposure to environmental hazards
  • Health effects potentially related to exposure to environmental hazards
Its goal is to protect communities by providing information to federal, state, and local agencies whom, in turn, will use this information to plan, apply, and evaluate public health actions to prevent and control environmentally related diseases.

In 2002, Congress provided $17.5 million tothe CDC to begin developing a nationwide environmental public health tracking network and to develop capacity in environmental health within state and local health departments. Their goal was to develop a tracking system that integrates data about environmental hazards and exposures with data about diseases that are possibly linked to the environment. With this system, federal, state and local agencies will be able to: 1) monitor and distribute information about environmental hazards and disease trends, 2) advance research on possible linkages between environmental hazards and disease, and 3) develop, implement, and evaluate regulatory and public health actions to prevent or control environment-related diseases.[1]

WHY?


With the environment playing an important role in human development and health, researchers are able to connect exposures to some environmental hazards with specific diseases. A few examples are:
  • links between exposure to asbestos and lung cancer
  • links between exposure to lead and decreased mental function in childeren
    Currently, there are no systems that exist at the state or national level to track many of the exposures and health effects that might be related to environmental hazards. In most cases, existing environmental hazard, exposure, and disease tracking systems are not linked together. Since the existing systems are not linked, it is difficult to study and monitor relationships among hazards, exposures, and health effects.[1]


New Additions!

Children’s Environmental Health:
A Children’s Environmental Health module is now available on the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. Added in 2012, this module combines data and information that is already on the Tracking Network associated with children’s health. There are specific topics listed in this module that are normally considered to be childhood related ailments and injuries. These topics would include asthma, some childhood cancers, lead poisoning, some developmental disabilities, and socioeconomic conditions. Also featured in each topic area is a link to specific communications tools that include toolkits, videos, and podcasts related to each topic. In addition, some topic areas now have interactive maps posted on their communication tools pages.
You can also learn about:
  • Why children are at a greater risk form environmental contaminants.
  • How contact with environmental hazards can affect a child’s growth and development.
  • Habits to develop to protect children from environmental exposures.

Biomonitoring:

The Biomonitoring: Population exposures module is available on the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. Added in 2012, this module will provide information and data about different kinds of environmental chemicals. The biomonitoring data are gathered from tests of blood and urine collected by CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) as shown in the CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. These data provide estimates of exposure to environmental chemicals for the entire nation and not just for individual counties or states.

The 11 environmental chemicals highlighted in this module are:
  • Arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Chloroform
  • Cotinine
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Naphthalene
  • Pyrene
  • Toluene
  • Uranium


Resources:

- http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/tracking/background.htm
- http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/tracking/whatsnew.htm