Health Tracking

Tracking and Air Quality

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

Environmental Public Health Tracking Virtual Conference 2016

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.

Community Drinking Water Data on the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.

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

Conquering Time and Space: Effectively Using Weather Data to Assess Environmental Health

Accounting for weather and atmospheric factors (temperature, humidity, wind, and smoke plumes) is critical for environmental health surveillance, but data are usually available at scales that are not compatible with health data. Using new tools, publicly available data, and open source software, weather and health data can be aggregated to meaningful scales for use by environmental health professionals.

Developing a National Database of Standardized Radon Test Data: A Pilot Project

Although elevated radon levels in the home are a known cause of lung cancer and public outreach efforts promote radon testing and mitigation when unsafe levels are found, radon data are not standardized among states. This presentation shares the results of a collaborative feasibility study for a publicly accessible database that would standardize state and local radon data sources into a nationally consistent radon information resource. Could a national tracking database drive targeted public health actions in your geographic area?

Health Tracking

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 state and local health departments already providing their data to the over-arching network, it is already seeing an increase in use.

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. 

Tracking 101 Online Course

NEHA's e-Learning course gives an overview of the major components of Environmental Public Health Tracking.  Topics include the National Tracking Network and Program, surveillance and epidemiology, types of tracking data, GIS policies and communication. The course counts as continuing education from NEHA and CDC. Users must register in order to access this online course.


NEHA Tracking Resources

Position Paper –  In recognition of the importance of this program, a position paper on Environmental Public Health Tracking was submitted which was adopted by the NEHA Board during the 2007 Spring Board Meeting. 

E-learning Opportunities – NEHA has two Tracking educational opportunities available online. These sessions also provide continuing education credit.

Journal of Environmental Health  The Journal of Environmental Health is published 10 times per year by the National Environmental Health Association and keeps readers up-to-date on current issues, new research, useful products and services, and employment opportunities. The CDC Tracking program contributes a bi-monthly column on Tracking Network and Program activities. We frequently cover issues of importance to environmental health professionals, and reprints are available through Content Editor.

Other Tracking Resources

Childhood Lead Poisoning - A Hidden Problem: Lead Poisoned Children in the United States

Resources for Local Health Departments  Learn how your local health department can utilize the Tracking Network to address your community's health issues.

National Tracking Network Communication Tools – A one-stop source for communication materials and social media tools. You can use the materials and tools to learn about Tracking, inform others, and stay up-to-date with Tracking News.

Tracking in Action Videos – Short videos that take a look at how tracking programs across the country are making important, lasting contributions to the health of their communities.

Tracking Podcasts – Listen to Tracks, a podcast series focused on environmental public health tracking.

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