What is the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network?
Environmental public health tracking is the ongoing collection, integration, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of data from environmental quality monitoring, and from human exposure and health outcome surveillance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with many states throughout the country, have developed a National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. This network integrates and standardizes data and information from various monitoring and surveillance systems at the federal and state levels.
Why does New Jersey and the Nation Need a Tracking Network?
Environmental contaminants in the air we breathe and in the water we use for drinking, cooking, bathing and recreation can have an impact upon human health. Chronic diseases account for 70% of deaths in the United States, and environmental hazards may influence certain health conditions.
In January 2001, the Pew Environmental Health Commission issued the report “America’s Environmental Health Gap: Why the Country Needs a Nationwide Health Tracking Network.” The report, which stated that the existing environmental health system is neither adequate nor well organized, recommended the creation of a “Nationwide Health Tracking Network for disease and exposures.” Funded by Congress in 2002, the EPHT Network is CDC’s response to calls for better understanding of how the environment affects people’s health.
CDC’s Vision, Mission and Goals of the EPHT Network:
Vision: Healthy Informed Communities
Mission: To provide information from a nationwide network of integrated health outcome and environmental quality data to inform communities, track progress and drive actions to improve the health of communities and locate health and environmental outcome disparities throughout the state and nation.
Goals: National and State Health Tracking Network
The goal of environmental public health tracking is to protect communities by providing information to federal, state, and local agencies. These agencies, in turn, will use this information to plan, apply, and evaluate public health actions to prevent and control environmentally-related diseases. Please visit the CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking website for more details.
What is the New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking (NJ EPHT) Network?
New Jersey and other states have joined with CDC to develop state-specific environmental health tracking programs. The NJ EPHT program is attempting to integrate data from environmental monitoring and human health surveillance systems, and to make information available to the public, health officials, healthcare providers, and researchers. The program promotes the use of these data to better understand patterns, trends, and the relationship between environmental exposures and human health.
All states participating in the EPHT network are (or will be) providing data on the following:
- Measures of air quality
- Measures of drinking water quality
- Lead exposure in children
- Birth and infant outcomes (e.g. prematurity, low birth weight, mortality, etc.)
- Birth defects (e.g. cardiac defects, cleft palate, hypospadias, etc.)
- Asthma hospitalizations
- Carbon monoxide poisoning hospitalizations
- Heart attack hospitalizations
- Cancer incidence rates
The NJ EPHT program has built strong, collaborative working relationships, beginning with EPHT demonstration projects, between and within the New Jersey Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection.
Funding and Support Acknowledgement
The New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking Program and development of the state’s Environmental Public Health Tracking web portal was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 5 U38EH000196-03 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors (EPHT program staff and data stewards) and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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