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Glossary

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Cancer: A disease in which cells in the body become abnormal and grow or multiply out of control. It is often named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later.

Cancer cluster: A greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time. A person may expect that a cancer cluster exist when several loved ones, neighbors, or coworkers are diagnosed with cancer. However, what appears to be a cluster may actually reflect the expected number of cancer cases within the group or area.

Carbon monoxide (CO): A criteria air pollutant. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, poisonous gas formed by burning, especially fuels such as gasoline, oil, and wood. Breathing too much carbon monoxide interferes with the body's absorption of oxygen and therefore is especially dangerous for people with respiratory and heart disease.

Carbon monoxide poisoning: Illness that results from exposure to carbon monoxide. The most common symptoms are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

Carcinogen: Any substance that causes or aggravates cancer.

Cardiovascular disease: A class of diseases that involves the heart or the blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and rheumatic heart disease.

Childhood lead poisoning: Illness that results from exposure to lead. Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. It can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death.

Chronic health effect: A health condition that develops and persists over a long period of time

Classification by exposure gradient: Placing people into categories of risk by level of exposure to a hazard.

Clean Air Act: Under this law, EPA sets limits on how much of a pollutant can be in the air anywhere in the United States. www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview

Cleft Lip with or without Cleft Palate: A cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip. The opening in the lip can be a small slit in the lip or a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth, called the palate. A cleft palate can occur when the two sides of the palate do not come together correctly.

Cleft palate without cleft lip: A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth, called the palate. A cleft palate can occur when the two sides of the palate do not come together correctly.

Cluster investigation: A review of an unusual number, real or perceived, of health events (for example, reports of cancer) grouped together in time and location. Cluster investigations are designed to confirm case reports, determine whether they represent an unusual disease occurrence, and, if possible, explore possible causes and contributing environmental factors.

Coarse particles: See Particulate matter.

Combustion: The process of burning. Many important air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and small particles, are the products the combustion of fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline, and wood.

Community Water System (CWS): A public water system that year-round serves residents of a community, subdivision, or mobile home park that has at least 15 service connections or an average of at least 25 residents.

Concentration: The amount of one substance dissolved or contained in a unit amount of another substance, or the relative proportions of two or more quantities in a mixture. Sea water, for example, contains a higher concentration of salt than does fresh water. Concentrations, which may be expressed in various ways, are often described in terms of a component's percentage by weight or volume. Very low concentrations, such as those of various substances in the atmosphere, are commonly expressed in parts per million (ppm).

Confidence interval, 95%: A range of values to express how large the random error for an estimate is likely to be. Technically, if we hypothetically repeated a study 100 times, 95 times out of the 100, the true value of our estimate would fall within the upper and lower limit of this confidence interval.

Contaminant: Any substance or material that enters a system (such as the environment) where it is not normally found.

Criteria pollutants: EPA uses six "criteria pollutants" as indicators of air quality, and has established for each of them a maximum concentration above which adverse effects on human health may occur. These six pollutants are: Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Particulate Matter (less than 10 microns), Lead, and Carbon Monoxide.

Crude rate: The number of cases or events in an area during a specified time period per unit population of interest such as "per 10,000" or "per 100,000."

Content Workgroup (CWG): A workgroup of the CDC National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program tasked to define appropriate core data and measures to track.

Coronary heart disease: Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease. CHD occurs when the coronary arteries, that supply blood to the heart muscle, become hardened and narrowed due to the plaque buildup.

Correlation: Statistical measure of the degree to which variables change together. For example, ER visits resulting from asthma may be correlated with, or related to, ozone concentrations.

Count: Number.

Cumulative exposure: The sum of exposures of an organism to a chemical over a period of time.

 

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Data element: A specific piece of data, such as an observation or aggregate of individual observations, needed to calculate a value of a measure.

Data limitations: Specific information related to the quality or completeness of the data that will help you understand it correctly.

Data source: An organization or information system providing data for tracking.

Data suppression: Preventing public display of information to protect personal information.

Detection limit: The lowest concentration of a chemical that can reliably be distinguished from a zero concentration.

Developmental disability: A diverse group of severe chronic conditions caused by mental and/or physical impairments. People with developmental disabilities have problems with major life activities such as language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living.

Diabetes: A group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

Discharge date: The date of discharge from hospital.

Dioxin: Any of a family of compounds known chemically as dibenzo-p-dioxins. Dioxin is considered highly toxic and may cause cancer or birth defects. Dioxins are created as by-products in many industrial processes.

Disinfectant byproducts: A compound formed by the reaction of a disinfectant such as chlorine with organic material in the water supply, a chemical byproduct of the disinfection process.

Domestic water use: Using water for household purposes, such as drinking, preparing food, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets, or watering lawns and gardens. Also called residential water use. The water may be obtained from a public supply or may be self-supplied by a homeowner (such as by a well).

Down Syndrome: (Trisomy 21) is a condition in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are small "packages" of genes in the body. They determine how a baby’s body forms during pregnancy and how, as the baby grows in the womb and after birth, the body functions. Normally, a baby is born with 46 chromosomes. Babies born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes. This extra copy changes the body’s and brain’s normal development and causes developmental and physical problems for the baby.

Drinking water compliance: The act of meeting all state and federal drinking water regulations.

Drinking water contaminant: Any physical chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in drinking water.

Drinking water exemption: State or EPA permission for a water system not to meet a certain drinking water standard. An exemption allows a system additional time to obtain financial assistance or make improvements in order to come into compliance with the standard. The system must prove that (1) there are compelling reasons (including economic factors) why Maximum Contaminant Level or Treatment Technique cannot be met, (2) the system was in operation on the effective date of the requirement, and (3) the exemption will not create an unreasonable risk to public health. The state must set a schedule under which the water system will comply with the standard for which it received an exemption.

Drinking water monitoring: Testing that water systems must perform to detect and measure contaminants. A water system that does not follow EPA's monitoring methodology or schedule is in violation and may be subject to legal action.

Drinking water supply: Water available for drinking.

Drinking water supply distribution system: A network of pipes used to carry treated water from the treatment plant to customers' plumbing systems.

Drinking water treatment technique: A required process intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in drinking water.

Drinking water variance: State or EPA permission not to meet a certain drinking water standard. The water system must prove that (1) even while using the best available treatment method it cannot meet a Maximum Contaminant Level because of the characteristics of the raw water and (2) the variance will not create an unreasonable risk to public health. The state or EPA must review and allow public comment on a variance every three years. States can also grant variances to water systems that serve small populations and which prove that they are unable to afford the required treatment or an alternative water source or to otherwise comply with the standard.

Drinking water violation: A failure to meet any state or federal drinking water regulation.

Drinking water vulnerability assessment: An evaluation of drinking water source quality and its vulnerability to contamination by pathogens and toxic chemicals.

Duplicate records (Hospitalization data): More than one record for the same person with the same hospital admission data (i.e., all columns have the same information).

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