New molecular and bioinformatic approaches have advanced understanding of how molecular pathways are affected by exposure and the molecular networks involved in disease. However, these advances are often not yet deemed sufficient to establish causality for public health risk assessments; regulators still rely primarily on traditional apical endpoints, such as those endpoints observed in animal studies.
March 15 and 16, 2017: Annual Conference, hosted by the Michigan Environmental Health Association, Lansing, MI.
Tracking, Technology, Data and Climate Change
Health tracking, technology and data play a huge role in curbing the effects of climate change. By providing resources to local health departments on the current state of climate change in any given region, environmental health professionals can move forward with the best techniques to continue fighting climate change. NEHA offers a number of courses on how to better use technology to help the environmental health profession.
Climate Change and Environmental/Public Health
Climate change impacts health and is a significant threat. According to the Lancet Commission, “climate change could be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” The health effects from climate change will affect most populations especially those most vulnerable: children, elderly, those with chronic health issues, and those living in poverty.
Tracking Virtual Conference
NEHA has partnered with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Environmental Health Tracking Branch (Tracking Branch) to work on the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (link to EPH Tracking Network Page here) to engage local health departments to use and contribute data. Additionally, NEHA, NACDD and CDC partnered to create a virtual conference focused on increasing awareness and knowledge about the environment’s role in chronic diseases.
Conference content focused on the environmental effects on chronic conditions such as asthma, cancer, respiratory disease, as well as other relevant topics such as physical activity environment in children, health impact assessments, utilizing the CHANGE Tool, utilizing the MAPPS Tool, creating partnerships between health and local planning agencies, health equity, health policy and others.
While the virtual conference has ended, there will be a new one in early 2017, exact date to be announced.
NEHA/CDC: Environmental Public Health Tracking Network
Local health departments have a number of resources available to gain an understanding of the community in which it serves, however, sometimes the data and the numbers just aren’t available. When it comes time to decide ways to ensure a community is thriving and healthy, it is important to find those numbers and data so the department can address the most pressing issues first.
The partnership between NEHA and the CDC is creating a solution that many local health departments face when it comes to lacking data. The Environmental Public Health Tracking network is a collection of data from environmental hazards to human health effects surveillance. With 26 local health departments already providing their data to the over-arching network, it is already seeing an increase in use.
In order to help engage more local health departments and educate the community about the benefits of EH tracking, NEHA has offered an Environmental Public Health Tracking Virtual Conference to anyone interested in learning more about the Tracking Network. Additionally, NEHA will host another virtual conference in 2017 (date is to be announced).
NEHA is already leading the way when it comes to EH tracking, with two training courses at our members’ disposal as well as numerous articles published in the Journal of Environmental Health every year, we are working toward an open data vision that allows everyone to help their community flourish.
The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network is the best Internet resource connecting environmental and health information. This resource can give the National Environmental Health Association the power to help save lives and better protect the people we serve. Key principles behind the Tracking Network are:
- Open Data. The Tracking Network is unique because it brings together data that would usually be collected and kept by many separate agencies and then standardizes it. This process allows us to see how our health and the environment are related.
- Tools for Analysis. The Tracking Network also offers tools to help make sense of these data —such as maps that show where environmental and health problems are happening—and then makes that valuable information available to people who need it, from scientists to decision-makers.
- Guide Decision Makers. The Tracking Network is used by states, cities, universities, and professional organizations to help make critical decisions about where to target environmental public health resources that will protect people and save lives.
CDC is sponsoring the first ever National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program Week. During the second full week in July, CDC, state health departments, and other national organizations are coming to highlight environmental health issues that are important to improving the health of our nation and recognize the work of the Tracking Program.
Daily topics relate to this year’s theme, We Track That:
Asthma is a disease that can affect your lungs and make breathing difficult. In the United States, about 25 million people live with asthma. That’s about one out of every 12 people. Asthma affects people of all genders, races and ages. For some people, symptoms only appear when they are exposed to something that irritates their breathing. Other people have a kind of asthma that makes breathing difficult all of the time. We know that there is a connection between exposure to air pollution and asthma symptoms. For example, many adults and children with asthma are more likely to have symptoms when ozone and particle pollution are in the air. The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network is helping us understand the connection between outdoor air quality and asthma. By tracking asthma-related hospital admissions and the number of people reporting they live with asthma, the Tracking Network is helping identify high-risk groups and shaping asthma prevention efforts.
What We Are Learning from the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network
Understanding the burden of asthma involves collecting data about people diagnosed and living with asthma and also collecting data about people who experience asthma attacks. These data can then be analyzed and shared with key stakeholders.
- The Tracking Network includes data about people who have been told by a physician that they have asthma and the number of hospital stays for asthma.
- This information can provide estimates about the people who are affected by asthma and where they may receive care for asthma related issues. These estimates can be used to plan and evaluate asthma control efforts. Many of these asthma control efforts are coordinated by CDC’s National Asthma Control Program.
- Data in the Tracking Network show that the number of asthma hospital admissions increased from 2007 to 2009 for several states reporting into the system. Having this information can alert public health and medical professionals to look for additional asthma prevention education opportunities.
Other Communication Tools
- Asthma and Air Pollution Toolkit
- Heart Health and Air Pollution Toolkit
- Asthma and Air Pollution Infographic
- Heart Health Infographic
- Tracking in Action Video: New Mexico’s Wildfire Response
- Tracking in Action Video: Informing Smarter Asthma Centers in New York City
- Tracking in Action Video: Protecting Air Quality in Massachusetts
- Air Quality, Asthma, and Heart Health Success Stories
The 2016 Environmental Public Health Tracking Virtual Conference will include topics such as asthma, air quality, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, heart disease, health equity and the environment, and others. Free of charge for all attendees! This is a valuable opportunity to help advance and interact with environmental health professionals and chronic disease practitioners in a variety of sectors and industries.
Drinking water quality is an important public health issue. This presentation will highlight new functionality of the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program using as an example drinking water data for 24 states for 10 contaminants for the years 2000-2010. The attendee will learn how to access and download any of the tracking program datasets for observation and exploration on their own.
Presented at NEHA 2015 AEC