The Environmental Epidemiology Program at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) systematically measures and tracks how hazards in our environment are affecting the health of Minnesotans. Environmental hazards include chemical and physical agents found in our air, drinking water, food, homes, and communities. Health effects include chronic diseases, such as asthma and cancer, reproductive outcomes, and acute chemical poisonings. This information helps to inform actions we can take to reduce hazards and prevent chronic diseases. For more information about environmental epidemiology, see the highlights of program activities (below) or Contact Chronic Disease & Environmental Epidemiology.
- Consultations & Investigations
MDH conducts specialized data analysis and consultations in epidemiological surveillance and investigative methods, and interprets the scientific literature for departmental investigations of environmental hazards, exposures, and adverse health outcomes. For more information, see Consultations & Investigations.
- Tracking Health & Environment Data
Data about environmental hazards, exposures, and health outcomes provide essential information to inform public health actions and policies, and ultimately to protect, maintain, and improve the health status of people in Minnesota. MDH is currently working with federal and state partners to collect, analyze, and share these data through Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking.
- Biomonitoring for Chemical Exposures
Biomonitoring is the direct measurement of chemicals (or their breakdown products) in people's bodies. Measuring chemical exposures through biomonitoring provides important information to help guide steps to prevent or reduce chemical exposures, and to guide public health policy to measure the impact of interventions to reduce exposures. MDH has a MN Biomonitoring Pilot Program.
- Measuring Health Impacts of Air Pollutants
Measuring the public health impacts of air pollutants provides important information to evaluate steps to reduce exposures and health effects for chemicals in the air, such as fine particles and ozone. MDH is developing new analytical methods for tracking the impact of changes in air quality in Minnesota with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Funding for this work is provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency. For more information, see Measuring Health Impacts of Air Pollutants.
- Informing Public Health Actions
MDH staff has trained environmental epidemiologists and health communications specialists who provide information to inform community actions to protect public health. Local public health, community organizations and the public may contact us for information and educational materials about the environmental health hazards, exposures, and chronic diseases, such as asthma and cancer; and acute poisonings.