Environmental Public Health Tracking

environmental public health tracking

What is Environmental Public Health Tracking?

The environment — our air, water, food, homes, workplaces and communities — as well as the social and economic conditions where we live, work and play are important to our health. Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) is a CDC grant program for the ongoing collection, integration, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of data on environmental hazards, exposures to those hazards, and health effects that may be related to the exposures. The goal of tracking is to provide information and data that can be used to plan, apply, and evaluate actions to prevent and control environmentally related diseases.

Iowa is part of CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. CDC provides funds to 25 states and 1 city to develop local tracking networks. These networks feed into the National Tracking Network.


Why is a Tracking Network needed?

In 2001, the Pew Environmental Health Commission detailed an "environmental health gap", a lack of basic information needed to document links between environmental hazards and chronic disease. After the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the 1970s, health and the environment often became separate realms with separate administrative structures, separate funding, and separate legal authorities for action. The Commission found that the environmental public health system was fragmented, neglected, and ineffective, and did not have the capability to respond adequately to environmental threats. As a result, an urgent need existed for a surveillance system that presented beyond just infectious diseases but also included noninfectious diseases integrated with environmental hazard and exposure data.

In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) established the National Tracking Network. Prior to the development of the Tracking Network, no systems existed at the state or national level to track many of the exposures and health effects that may be related to environmental hazards. Iowa has been a participating and funded state since 2009.


Iowa Data on the National Tracking Portal

The Iowa Environmental Public Health Tracking Program submits data to the CDC for use on the National Tracking Portal during two data calls during the year: one in the Spring, and another in Fall. Data on community drinking water and childhood blood lead testing are typically submitted during the Spring Data Call, and data on emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and birth defects are typically submitted during the Fall Data Call. These data are aggregated, and used to develop nationally consistent indicators and measures published on the Tracking Public Portal.

Data dictionaries provide descriptive information on the data source, purpose, geographic level, and restrictions along with other information such as the data variable name, a description of the variable, the type of data it holds, a code for populating the variable, legal values, and variable length.

Below are the data dictionaries for the aggregate data sets that are submitted by the Iowa Environmental Public Health Tracking Program for use on the National Tracking Portal.

Below are the data dictionaries for the data sets that are used by the Iowa Environmental Public Health Tracking Program to display NCDM but are not submitted to the National Tracking Portal.