What is Environmental Public Health Tracking?
Tracking is an ongoing national effort to better understand how environmental hazards can contribute to certain illnesses. Tracking has identified situations where known environmental hazards have resulted in the occurrence of chronic diseases. One example is the onset of asthma attacks in children who live close to highways.
The Vermont Tracking program is being implemented jointly by the state's Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. The goal is to build a nationwide network that allows the public, policy makers, and public health officials to use environmental and health data more effectively. To learn more about tracking nationally, visit the CDC National tracking portal.
Are other states participating in the Tracking Network?
Vermont is one of 26 states and one city funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a state and national tracking network of environment and health data for the public, policy makers, researchers, and agencies.
Currently, no other system exists at the state or national level to track many of the exposures and health effects that may be related to environmental hazards. CDC's goal is to develop a tracking system that integrates data about environmental hazards and exposures with data about diseases that may have an environmental link.
The Tracking Network will help federal, state and local agencies and other researchers to:
- make use of modern public health tracking tools
- monitor and distribute information about environmental hazards and disease trends
- advance research on possible links between environmental hazards and disease
- develop, implement and evaluate regulatory and public health actions to prevent or control environment-related diseases
- reduce the burden of disease and cost of health care services
The Tracking Network will be used by federal, state and local regulators/officials to help reduce the burden of adverse environment-related health effects in communities. Officials will use information obtained from the Tracking Network to plan, apply and evaluate public health actions to prevent and control environmentally related diseases. The network will be available at the state and national level. In addition, the CDC is working with other government agencies and partners to use existing information systems to identify information gaps.
Personally identifiable information will not be made public on the Tracking Network. Federal laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act known as HIPAA, will continue to protect privacy and public health agencies will continue to be protectors of data. Agreements between agencies protect information and how it is used. Information will be stored in a secure environment and access to the data will be restricted.
Will more data be added to the system?
Yes. Data are added as they become available.