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Environmental Public Health Tracking

Welcome to the Maryland Tracking Network, your gateway for many environmental and health databases in Maryland.

What is Environmental Public Health Tracking?

The Maryland EPHT program is being implemented jointly by the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Department of the Environment.

Maryland is one of the 23 states and one city funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a state and national tracking network of environment and health data for the public, policy makers, researchers, and agencies. The goal is to build a nation-wide network that allows the public, policy makers, and public health officials to use environmental and health data more effectively. To learn more about tracking nationally, visit the CDC National tracking portal

What is here?

This is your starting point for environmental and health data resources, including maps, tables, and indicators of health and environmental quality.    

You can also find other information about environmental and health issues here, as well as metadata, and a glossary of terms contained in Maryland Tracking. You can also access the CDC National Tracking Network, and get data about environmental health issues across the country.

Need for Tracking

In September, 2000, the Pew Environmental Health Commission published a report entitled "America's Environmental Health Gap: Why the Country Needs a Nationwide Health Tracking Network".The Pew Commission found that "There is currently no cohesive national strategy to identify environmental hazards, measure population exposures, and track health conditions that may be related to the environment. As a result, basic information on the incidence and trends in health conditions that may be reflected or influenced by the environment is largely unavailable."

This public health surveillance gap was highlighted in Maryland when the State was faced with undertaking mosquito control efforts to reduce the risk of West Nile Virus to the population. While the State was well prepared to monitor the presence of virus in birds and mosquitoes, to detect antibodies in horses and people, and gather basic surveillance information about human cases, it lacked a mechanism to gather measure and monitor human exposures used in mosquito control and the human health effects caused from exposures to these pesticides in the population.

Measurements of exposures to environmental hazards such as pesticides are difficult and expensive to obtain since tests are not available at the State Public Health Laboratory. Once obtained, test results are often difficult to interpret (personal communications with local health officers). The Pew Environmental Health Commission estimated a substantial national cost savings by investing in a preventive measure such as a national environmental public health tracking system.