Who We Are – Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking – Minnesota Department of Health

Who We Are
Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking

Connecting the environment, exposures and health

Minnesota Tracking logo.The environment – our air, water, food, homes, workplaces and communities – as well as the social and economic conditions where we live, work and play are important to our health. The Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (MN Tracking) uses existing data, gathered by disease surveillance, population surveys and environmental monitoring programs, to better understand connections between the physical, chemical and social environments that we live in and people's health.

At MDH, MN Tracking and the Minnesota Biomonitoring Program (MN Biomonitoring) are led by staff in the Environmental Epidemiology Unit. MN Biomonitoring investigates and measures chemical exposures in communities. MN Tracking brings together data from environmental monitoring, biomonitoring in people, and chronic diseases, and analyzes it for geographic patterns, trends over time, and associations.

MN Tracking also maintains the Minnesota Public Health Data Access portal, which makes data on health and the environment publicly available and easy to access online.

Tracking hazards, exposure and health

MN Tracking environmental public health data fall into four general categories:

  • Environmental hazards include chemical pollutants in the air, water, food, products and homes; extreme weather; radiation and traffic.
  • Exposures are chemicals from the environment found in people's bodies.
  • Health effects are diseases and conditions in the population like asthma, cancer, or poisonings that result from exposure to those hazards.
  • Population characteristics include poverty, tobacco use, health care access and other social/economic factors that are important determinants of health.

Informing public health action and policies

Data are shared with citizens, communities, policymakers, and health officials, who then use the data to inform actions that protect health in Minnesota communities. Please visit the Minnesota Public Health Data Access portal website to browse the available data.

Consulting and investigating

Specialized data analyses, reports and consultations are conducted in response to public health concerns. Custom data requests will be answered and filled in the order in which they are received, with priority given to requesters from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Legislature, other state agencies, community health service agencies and public media. These requesters will not be charged for completion of their data request.

Other requesters may be charged for data reports if the request requires more than one hour of staff time to complete, and/or the total out-of-pocket expenses needed to complete the request are more than $50. To request custom data or consultation, please use the Data Request Form (Word).  

Evolution of the MN Tracking program

For many years, no system existed at the state or national level to track many of the exposures and health effects related to environmental hazards. In 2002, the CDC established the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network to build a sustainable national surveillance system and bridge the gap between public health and the environment. 

The MN Tracking and Biomonitoring programs and an expert Advisory Panel were first established in statutes by the Minnesota Legislature in 2007. Currently, the CDC maintains the National Tracking Network, which integrates nationwide health and environment data, and funds a cooperative agreement between 26 states, including Minnesota, to maintain local tracking networks.

The Environmental Public Health Tracking and Biomonitoring Program and its Advisory Panel were established by the Minnesota Legislature in 2007 with the purpose to gather and share public data on environmental hazards, chemicals in people and chronic diseases in Minnesota.

Section 144.995  Definitions; Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring
This section provides definitions for key terms used in consecutive sections of the Minnesota Legislature.

Section 144.996  Environmental Health Tracking; Biomonitoring
This section outlines the responsibilities of the Minnesota Tracking and Biomonitoring programs.

Section 144.997 Biomonitoring Pilot Program (MN Biomonitoring: Chemicals in People)
This section details the guidelines and procedures used to conduct the Biomonitoring pilot program and begin the base program.

Section 144.998 Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring Advisory Panel (Advisory Panel)
This section explains the criteria for appointing Advisory Panel members, as well as the members duties.

CDC creates the first environmental public health tracking program
Minnesota legislature launches Environmental Public Health Tracking & Biomonitoring programs
Minnesota joins the CDC National Tracking Network
MN Tracking receives Governor's Award for Continuous Improvement for increasing access to public health information

To see success stories of how MN Tracking has collaborated with other Minnesota agencies and stakeholder groups, check out the Tracking in Action: Minnesota page.

MN Tracking reports

Contact MN Tracking

Program Director Jessie Shmool, MPH, DrPH, jessie.shmool@state.mn.us, 651-201-5662

Mailing Address: Minnesota Department of Health | P.O. Box 64882 | St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0882

Phone: 651-201-5900 or toll free: 1-800-205-4987 | Email: health.tracking@state.mn.us