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Glossary

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Part per billion (ppb): Unit of measurement commonly used to express a contamination ratio, as in establishing the maximum permissible amount of a contaminant in water, land, or air.

Part per million (ppm): Unit of measurement commonly used to express a contamination ratio, as in establishing the maximum permissible amount of a contaminant in water, land, or air.

Particulates, particulate matter (PM-2.5 and PM-10): A criteria air pollutant. Particulate matter includes dust, soot, smoke, and other small solid particles found in the air or in emissions. Particulates are produced by many sources, including the burning of diesel fuels by trucks and buses, incineration of garbage, mixing and application of fertilizers and pesticides, road construction, industrial processes such as steel manufacture, mining operations, agricultural burning, and operation of fireplaces and wood stoves.

Particle pollution: A complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids, such as nitrates and sulfates, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles.

Pathogen: A disease-causing organism.

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs): A group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Many chemicals in this group, including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), have been a concern because they do not break down in the environment, and they build up in wildlife.

Pesticide poisoning: Damage or illness that results from inhaling, absorbing, touching, or swallowing a pesticide.

Pesticides: Any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or controlling any pest: herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and various other substances.

Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs): Chemicals made up of as many as 209 chlorinated compounds that do not occur naturally. They can either be oily liquids or waxy solids that are odorless and range from colorless to yellow in color. These chemicals were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment, as plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products, in pigments, dyes, and carbonless copy paper, and many other industrial applications. PCBs are toxic and have been banned for use in the U.S. since 1979.

Poverty percent or rate: The percentage of people or families who are below poverty (12%-15% below federal poverty line).

Preterm birth: Preterm birth is the birth of an infant at least three weeks before the due date (less than 37 weeks gestation). For Tracking, preterm births are measured among singleton births only.

Prevalence: The number of existing cases of an illness in a defined population at a given point in period or time.

Prevention: Proactive activities conducted to avoid health hazards and their consequences.

Primary standard: A pollution limit set by the EPA for a criteria pollutant and based on health effects.

Privacy: Health information privacy broadly refers to individuals’ rights to control the acquisition, use, or disclosure of their identifiable health data.

Public Health Information Network (PHIN): CDC’s vision for advancing fully capable and interoperable information systems in the many organizations that participate in public health. PHIN is a national initiative to implement a multi-organizational business and technical architecture for public health information systems.

Public health surveillance: The ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data. This activity also involves timely dissemination of the data and use for public health programs.

Public notification: An advisory that EPA requires a water system to distribute to affected consumers when the system has violated MCLs or other regulations. The notice advises consumers what precautions, if any, they should take to protect their health.

Public Water System (PWS): Any water system that provides water to at least 25 people for at least 60 days annually.

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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