Pennsylvania Launches Environmental Public Health Tracking

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The Department of Health today launched the Pennsylvania Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, or PA EPHTN, which will track key environmental hazards, exposures, and health problems statewide.

“Keeping Pennsylvanians safe from potential environmental health hazards is a top priority,” said Health Secretary Everette James. “The tracking network will help us take a major step forward by identifying potential health threats and improving how we deal with those threats.”

The PA EPHTN is a groundbreaking environmental health tool that is part of a national initiative led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help gather more information about the environment’s impact on health.

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The network will help the Department of Health to make the best possible public health decisions to help prevent chronic illnesses such as asthma and cancer.

Data will be accompanied by text putting it into context. Users can also search for information about the data, such as source, ownership and validity periods.

Messages will be provided on particular public health topics and their significance to Pennsylvanians, including: cancer, birth defects, vital statistics, childhood blood lead and air quality. In the near future, the system will also provide information on asthma, myocardial infarction and water quality.

The tracking network aims to dramatically reduce the time it takes the health department and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to detect emerging environmental public health threats, including disease clusters, and to respond to community concerns.

Pennsylvania is one of 16 states to receive funding from the CDC to help improve what is known about the environment’s effect on health by building state tracking networks and conducting pilot projects that link environmental hazards and health effects.

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