Health Tracking

Legal Epidemiology

Laws and policies are essential to environmental health issues. Legal epidemiology is an emerging field that blends the practice of developing and implementing health laws with the scientific evaluation of how laws can affect health. Legal epidemiology is defined as: The scientific study of law as a factor in the cause, distribution and prevention of disease and injury. 

Legal epidemiological research can cover a wide variety of environmental health law topics such as:

  • Laws limiting exposures to disease-causing substances
  • Laws that regulate the use and disposal of harmful chemicals and materials
  • Laws creating parks and other community spaces
  • Laws establishing new frameworks like Health in All Policies (HiAP)

Local environmental health professionals, in particular, should be aware of legal epidemiological tools because it is harder for them to look across jurisdictions for best practices, due to lack of current information on law and policy. Using legal epidemiology can help with these barriers. Local environmental health professionals who conduct surveillance on their own laws and policies can use that information for evaluation and future program planning.

Webinar Series: An Introduction to Legal Epidemiology

NEHA, in collaboration with CDC's Public Health Law Program, is hosting a 3-part webinar series that examines the use of legal epidemiology to address environmental health. The first webinar will serve as an introduction to legal epidemiology and a discussion of the relationship between environmental health and policy. The second webinar will serve as legal epidemiology training for environmental health practitioners. The third webinar will offer a primer on the Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach and demonstrate how legal epidemiology can be used as a tool in tracking the growth of HiAP laws, policies and programs across the country and identifying current trends.

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EPH Tracking Virtual Conference

Environmental Public Health Tracking Virtual Conference The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Environmental Health Tracking Branch (Tracking Branch) to host a virtual conference to 1) raise awareness and knowledge about the environment’s role in asthma and other chronic diseases and 2) highlight collaboration opportunities between state leaders, decision makers and practitioners working in environmental health and chronic disease prevention.

Informatics Resources

Informatics

Integrating Data to Empower Advancement Virtual Conference

NEHA is excited to announce its third virtual conference, IDEA EH: Integrating Data to Empower Advancement Virtual Conference taking place February 14 and 15.

IDEA EH is designed to enhance the knowledge of environmental health professionals in data-use and provide an opportunity to learn about existing and new resources, innovative solutions, and successful programs around data-driven decision making. It is also an opportunity to bring professionals together in a unique virtual environment to exchange information and discover new solutions.

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Environmental and public health informatics is an emerging field that focuses on standardized data collection, sharing, and use. Data is transformed into information that is then used to better inform and develop programs. By moving towards the wider adoption and use of informatics systems, we can expect data-informed decision making that will improve population health.

Local, state, and federal agencies collect environmental health data that may not always be routinely analyzed or used to inform public health initiatives, especially at smaller local-level agencies. Environmental health professionals collect data through inspections, complaint investigations, and community interactions. The incorporation of this data with other public health data has the potential to inform programs in ways that have not yet existed. Imagine a physician taking a patient’s home environment into account when making a diagnosis. Or, imagine using an app to easily assess the safety of an aquatic facility, restaurant, or body art studio. 

Emerging Issues

Environmental health and public health programs, as well as health care facilities, have the potential to make an even greater impact on community health through increased data collection and sharing. Opportunities include:

  • increased advocacy for resources
  • establishment of data standards
  • easier sharing of data internally and across agencies
  • development of tools and trainings 

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Environmental Public Health Tracking 

Environmental and public health tracking and informatics is an essential piece of local, state, tribal and federal agencies as it relates to the status of the public and environmental health in this country.  Data is the holy grail of information for local health departments and federal agencies alike for determining what projects to take on next and how to better the community. Some would even suggest that data has been responsible for diverting illness and potentially saving lives. Well, environmental health does save lives, money and protect the future, right? So why wouldn't data

NEHA and the CDC have partnered to help engage local health departments to start sharing data to better inform the community while contributing to a nation-wide network. Environmental Health tracking is about engagement and access and NEHA is constantly working with EH professionals to use data effectively, and share data efficiently. 

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Advances in Causal Understanding

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.

Tracking, Technology, Data and Climate Change

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.

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Climate and Health

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. 

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Tracking Virtual Conference

Tracking Virtual Conference

NEHA is a partner 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 promote the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network to engage local health departments to use and contribute open data. Additionally, NEHA is a co-sponsor for the 2017 Environmental Public Health Tracking Virtual Conference focused on increasing awareness and knowledge about the environment’s role in chronic diseases. The conference took place on April 5-6, 2017. The full virtual conference can be accessed by registering here.

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.

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