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NH Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
Frequently Asked Questions
 

What is environmental public health tracking (EPHT)?

Environmental public health tracking is the ongoing collection, integration, analysis, and interpretation of data about environmental hazards, exposure to environmental hazards, and health effects potentially related to exposure to environmental hazards. The goal of environmental public health tracking is to protect communities by providing information to federal, state, and local agencies. These agencies, in turn, will use this information to plan, apply, and evaluate public health actions to prevent and control environmentally related diseases.

How will the NH EPHT Program work?

The NH EPHT Program is a cooperative initiative between the NH Department of Health and Human Services, the NH Department of Environmental Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that keeps track of important environmental health issues that impact NH communities. We can also provide information to environmental and public health professionals, legislators, advocacy groups, researchers, and the public to better facilitate decision making, evaluation, and policy development toward the prevention and control of environmentally related health problems.

Why is an EPHT Network needed?

Currently, no systems exist 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 are possibly linked to the environment. This system will allow federal, state, and local agencies, and others to do the following:

Why does it matter that the EPHT Network brings together, for the first time, environmental data and public health data?

The CDC is working with other government agencies and partners to utilize existing information systems for environmental public health tracking and to identify information gaps. We will gather data about human exposure to environmental factors - including air pollution, pesticides, waste sites, weather extremes, water pollution, and others. We will also gather information on adverse health effects from disease registries and other sources. By working together, we will be better equipped to identify problems and effective solutions. This will result in reducing the burden of environmentally related diseases on the American population.

Why is it important that the EPHT Network be able to identify potential environmental hazards to reduce likely exposures?

Identification of environmental hazards allows for better exposure assessment. The EPHT Program/Network will reduce the time and resources needed to respond to public concerns. Practicing physicians can be made aware of potential environmental risks within the community. The EPA and other regulators need to understand which environmental problems can and/or could affect health.

How will the NH EPHT Program work?

The NH EPHT Program is a cooperative initiative between the NH Department of Health and Human Services, the NH Department of Environmental Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that keeps track of important environmental health issues that impact NH communities. We can also provide information to environmental and public health professionals, legislators, advocacy groups, researchers, and the public to better facilitate decision making, evaluation, and policy development toward the prevention and control of environmentally related health problems.

How will the government use the EPHT Network?

The EPHT 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 EPHT 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 utilize existing information systems to identify information gaps.

How will scientists use the EPHT Network to understand environmental and health information?

The EPHT Network can be used to link data sets, generate rapid results, and test hypotheses in research studies. The studies generated can drive evidence-based public health actions, policies, and practices.

Will the EPHT Program/Network provide the public with credible information about environment and disease?

The EPHT Program/Network will provide the community with credible information that can help in identifying baseline trends and unusual events. Ongoing systematic data collection allows communities to better understand health status and actions they can take to improve health.

Will personal medical information be protected?

Personally identifiable information will not be made public on the EPTH Network. Federal laws, such as HIPPA, 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. All agencies and individuals are held accountable by law. The consequences are severe and penalties include prosecution and fines.

 

 


Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services
29 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 271-4988 800-852-3345 ext.4988

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