The National Network
The national Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (EPHTN) is a project of
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which makes available for the
first time nationally consistent, standardized data and measures on environmental
hazards, exposure, and health outcomes. Funded by Congress, the Tracking Network is
CDC’s response to calls for better understanding of how the environment affects
people’s health. The national network includes three groupings of data:
- Health outcome data show rates of certain non-infectious diseases or conditions.
- Exposure data show concentrations of certain chemicals inside people’s bodies.
- Hazard data show estimates of contaminants and pollutants that may be found in air,
water, and other human surroundings.
Washington Tracking Network
With funding from CDC, the Washington State Department of Health developed and implemented
the Washington Tracking Network (WTN), as well as contributed to the development
of the National network. The WTN project has three overarching aims
- Develop information technology and informatics systems needed to streamline collection,
management, integration, and dissemination of environmental public health data and
information via the web portal.
- Generate useful information and indicators from environmental public health tracking
- Build a network of environmental public health partners and stakeholders who will
inform, contribute to, and use available data from the Tracking Network for public
Why is the Tracking Network needed?
A 2001 Pew Environmental Health Commission report stated that the nation’s existing
environmental health system is neither adequate nor well organized to understand
the implications of the environment on public health. The report, “America’s Environmental
Health Gap: Why the Country Needs a Nationwide Health Tracking Network,” recommended
the creation of a national network for tracking environmental exposures and disease.
Chronic diseases account for 70% of deaths in the United States, and environmental
hazards may influence many of these diseases and health conditions. The mission
of the Tracking Network is to provide information from a nationwide network of integrated
health and environmental data that drives actions to improve the health of communities.
What data are on the Network?
As a starting point for development of nationally consistent data, CDC required
all EPHTN participants to host the following information:
- Air quality measures
- Asthma hospitalizations
- Cancer (selected types)
- Drinking water (selected contaminants)
- Heart attack (myocardial infarction) hospitalizations
- Lead screenings
With time, the breadth of narrative content, data, and tools will increase on the
WTN portal, based on national standards and local user needs. Users of this portal
are invited to send comments concerning current or future portal content or functionality