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.

Learn More About Webinar Series

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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

The Informatics Resources available here serve to support environmental health informatics programs and data-use activities. These resources showcase data collection, sharing, and use stories and serve to support the implementation of these activities within your own program.  Amongst these resources, you will find online education, a searchable repository of free and low-cost tools, case studies, tools to support the request for proposal process, and more. Through the utilization of these resources, we hope that data can be used to inform and improve programs, policies, and public health. 


If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at programs@neha.org.

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Informatics

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 

Learn more about Informatics: 

NEHA’s Informatics Resources serve to support environmental health informatics programs and data-use activities. These resources showcase data collection, sharing, and use stories and serve to support the implementation of these activities within your own program.  Resources include online education, a repository of free and low-cost tools, case studies, and more.

​View Informatics Resources


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. 


CHAT Webinar SeriesCHAT Webinar Series

In partnership with CDC’s NCEH, NEHA will be hosting the Communication in Environmental Health and Tracking (CHAT) Webinar Series. The first installment in the CHAT Webinar Series will explore communication tools and strategies for tracking programs to engage with local health departments and traditional partners. The webinar will feature Wisconsin Tracking Program and their use of mini-grant programs to further engagement with local health departments. 

Jenni Camponeschi and Christy Vogt will provide a step-by-step overview of their communication strategy and insight into how to build trust through transparent communication.

Communication Tools and Strategies for Tracking Programs to Engage with Local Health Departments:
Wisconsin’s Use of Mini-Grant Program
October 23, 2018; Time: 1 pm EDT

REGISTER For Webinar


GREAT Programs Webinar logoGREAT Programs 

NEHA partnered  with CDC Tracking on the GREAT Programs webinar and resources focused on utilizing student interns in program activities. The webinar highlighted two CDC grantee tracking internship programs at the New York State Department of Health and the Wisonsin Department of Health Services. The speakers discussed their experiences developing and supervising internship programs, one of which has developed into a funded program with promotional materials. Visit the Building Programs Through Student Internships page, to access the Student Internship Sample Workplan and the Student Internship FAQ.

 

 
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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. 

Additional Resources:

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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Tracking Network

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.

Tracking 101

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