The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program

It has long been suspected that the environment plays an important role in human development and health. Researchers have studied, for example, the link between asbestos exposure and lung disease. Another link has been discovered between bladder cancer and a person’s exposure to disinfectant by-products. While much information is collected about environmental conditions and public health, prior to 2002 no system collected and compiled that data together.

That situation has now been corrected. In 2002, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. The goal of the program is to identify, control, and prevent environmentally-related diseases. The program provides information that can be used to initiate public health actions, to conduct planning and evaluation, and to support scientific studies.


The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program has five main goals:


  1. To build a sustainable national environmental public health tracking network;
  2. To increase environmental public health tracking coverage;
  3. To advance environmental public health science and research;
  4. To disseminate credible information; and
  5. To bridge the gap between public health and the environment.

The CDC has done more than set up an information collection program, however. It has given money to schools of public health, which provide support to the state and local health departments that investigate disease outbreaks, some of which may be environmentally related. The CDC has also funded projects in nine states and New York City, making a total investment of about $ 4.2 million, to support studies that are investigating the links between environmental exposure and diseases and other health conditions.


The CDC has also assembled four workgroups, with representatives from governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions, which have been asked to develop recommendations for improving the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.

21 states and three cities have environmental-health study projects underway. Those projects include:


  • A project is underway in Massachusetts to see whether pediatric asthma can be linked to indoor air quality in schools.
  • A pilot project is being planned in California that will track asthma prevalence and adverse pregnancy outcomes to see whether these conditions can be linked to traffic exhaust exposure.
  • In Utah, birth and death certificate information, cancer registry data, and genealogic data is being compiled together to support epidemiologic research, that is, scientific research into the incidence, distribution, and control of disease in that state.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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