Environmental Public Health Tracking
Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) involves the ongoing collection, integration, and analysis of data about environmental hazards, exposure to environmental hazards, and health effects potentially related to exposure to those hazards. The goal of EPHT is to protect communities by providing federal, state, and local agencies with information they can use to plan, apply, and evaluate environmental public health actions.
The environment plays an important role in human development and health. Researchers have linked exposures to some environmental hazards with specific diseases. One example is the link between exposure to asbestos and lung cancer. Another example is the link between exposure to lead and decreased mental function in children. However, other links remain unproven, such as the suspected link between exposure to disinfectant byproducts (for example, chlorine from showerheads) and bladder cancer.
In 1988, in its report “The Future of Public Health,” the Institute of Medicine noted that the removal of environmental health authority from public health agencies has led to fragmented responsibility, lack of coordination, and inadequate attention to the health dimensions of environmental problems.
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.”
Prior to the development of EPHT, no systems existed at the state or national level to track many of the exposures and health effects that may be related to environmental hazards. In addition, in most cases, existing environmental hazard, exposure, and disease tracking systems are not linked together. Because existing systems are not linked, it is difficult to study and monitor relationships among hazards, exposures, and health effects.
Since joining the program in 2002, Missouri has collaborated with federal, state and local partners to bring together its distributed environmental data. These efforts have provided a means to evaluate the effectiveness of environmental monitoring in the state.
Does your organization need assistance with environmental public health activities? The Environmental Public Health Tracking Program has a wide variety of resources available. You may request a speaker, event or display.
The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
Missouri Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) is a program within the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. EPHT is part of a larger initiative to establish Environmental Public Health Tracking systems at the national and state levels.