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Local Health Departments

What is the Tracking Network?

The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network is a dynamic surveillance system that provides health and environmental data in one easy-to-find Website. Tracking Network data come from a variety of national, state, and city sources. Users of the Tracking Network can explore information and view maps, tables, and charts about health and environment across the country.

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How can it help me?

Local health departments like yours are on the front lines of public health work. You help develop and advance programs and policies that prevent illness, promote healthy living, and prepare communities for public health emergencies, such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters. Through the Tracking Network, you can find data that will help you understand the health of your community and identify potential environmental hazards that affect public health and need attention.

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Local Health Departments can use the Tracking Network in many ways.

  • Inform public health policy
  • Review standardized data
  • Identify patterns in health problems or environmental concerns
  • Generate hypotheses about how the environment can affect health
  • Access local data that may not be collected by your department
  • Study health outcomes using hazards data
  • Conduct education and outreach
  • Implement and evaluate public health activities
  • Facilitate research and environmental health investigations
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Local Health Departments like yours are putting the Tracking Network to use in their communities.

Residents of Norwood, Massachusetts, came to the local health department with concerns about the arrival of a new asphalt plant in their community.

Working with the Massachusetts State Health Department, the City of Norwood Health Department analyzed pediatric asthma data and data on hospitalization for cardiovascular and respiratory disease outcomes. These are health issues that can be affected by air pollution. They found that Norwood had an unusual number of residents who had been hospitalized for cardiovascular or respiratory disease. The local health director was able to use this data to show the current health burden and the impact that adding a new source of air pollution might have on the community.

As a result, the local health department worked with the company building the asphalt plant to minimize air pollution and ensure that measures were taken to protect the health of the community.

To take a look at how tracking programs across the country are making important, lasting contributions to the health of their communities, check out more of the "Tracking in Action" video series. More stories and examples of data use are available here.

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Content of Interest to Local Health Departments

The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network provides data on a variety of topics, including:

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Additional Resources for Local Health Departments

How to Guide

The Tracking Program has a comprehensive guide for local and state health departments interested in building an environmental public health tracking system. The Guide to Building an Environmental Public Health Tracking Network includes data standards, data use agreements, communications examples, case studies, success stories, and additional resources.

Communication Tools

Fact Sheets

The Tracking Branch's newest fact sheet highlights examples of how Tracking data have been used across the nation to help public health professionals quickly answer community concerns, inform decisions about public policies, and identify the neighborhoods that need help most urgently.

Infographics and Animated Maps

The Tracking Branch has created several infographics to help make Tracking data easy to understand. Infographics feature key facts about health topics such as risk groups, prevention messages, and their connection to the environment. The latest topics covered include heart health, children's environmental health, and developmental disabilities.

Animated maps are another way the Tracking Branch is working to make data trends easier to understand. The maps show data on a topic over several years and include statements to help ensure accurate interpretation of the data. These maps are available for outdoor air, asthma, childhood lead poisoning, reproductive & birth outcomes, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Communication Toolkits

The Tracking Branch has developed communication toolkits grantees and partners can use to increase awareness of Tracking Network data and information among key audiences. Each toolkit includes communication resources, such as talking points and ready-to-use content, as well as facts and data. Toolkits are available for these topics: Asthma, Birth Defects, Children's Environmental Health, Carbon Monoxide, Climate Change, Heart Health, and Women's Health.

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Partnership with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)

The Tracking Program partners with NACCHO on a number of different environmental public health tracking activities. You can learn more and find additional resources on their website.

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Training and Partnership with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)

  • NEHA and CDC currently offers two online courses related to tracking that may be of interest to local health department staff: Environmental Public Health Tracking 101 (Tracking 101)
    Tracking 101 gives an overview of the major components of Environmental Public Health Tracking. Topics include the National Tracking Network and Program, surveillance and epidemiology, types of tracking data, GIS, policies, and communication. Users can earn free continuing education from CDC and NEHA.*
  • Tracking in Action: Workforce Implementation
    Tracking in Action provides real-life examples of grantees' Tracking Programs and Networks and how they have partnered with local programs and organizations to identify and address environmental health concerns.
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*Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a designated provider of continuing education contact hours (CECH) in health education by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. The CDC has been approved as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), 1760 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, VA 22102.