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CDC Environmental Tracking and Disease Surveillance


Public Health agencies have shared a long-standing role in monitoring environmental pollutants as well as their potential health outcomes. These agencies have worked to mitigate the impact of environmental hazards on the public's health by managing waste and hazardous materials; monitoring lead, asbestos, radon, unintentional injury; and ensuring food safety as well as water and air quality.<P> A key component to these activities is an effective health information system which would provide public health agencies the ability to collect, analyze, share and react to information regarding the impact of environmental hazards in the community. Having the infrastructure to implement a health information system will enable public health agencies to proactively identify and contain emerging environmental health issues. An important strategy for addressing these emerging issues will be the implementation of the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (EPHTN). <P> Data resulting from the initiative will be used to identify populations most likely to be affected by environmental exposures in the community. Furthermore, these surveillance initiatives will allow public health to collectively demonstrate a better understanding of the total burden of disease by linking health data to environmental hazards and exposures and assuring that communities have the capacity to respond to this information. <P> In an effort to broaden resource coverage for public health agencies in the northeastern corridor, The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (Pittsburgh, PA) is collaborating with the Drexel University School of Public Health (Philadelphia, PA) to build a regional academic center for environmental public health surveillance. The U of Pitt /Drexel Public Health Alliance is uniquely positioned to act as an academic partner to health-related agencies in a local, state and regional initiative to facilitate environmental capacity building, to evaluate existing surveillance methodologies and to develop innovative strategies and tools to link hazards, exposures and health effects databases for the EPHTN. <P> Our goal for this project is to develop and critically evaluate within a broad-based hazard-exposure health effect data infrastructure that is comprehensive enough to facilitate complex environmental health data linkage yet straightforward enough to be utilized effectively by public health personnel through easily accessible, web-based applications for environmental health tracking and disease surveillance.

Talbott, Evelyn
University of Pittsburgh
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