About MN environmental health tracking
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) collects and analyzes data about environmental hazards, people's exposures to them, and the health of the population. MN Tracking makes these data accessible to the public through the MN Public Health Data Access portal.
Tracking hazards, exposure and health
Chemicals in the ground, air, and water play an important role in our health. So do environmental factors like hot weather, secondhand smoke and poverty. These are part of the physical, chemical and social environment that we live in. MN Tracking continues to add new data and explore possible connections between the environment and people's health.
MN Tracking environmental health data that fall into four categories:
- Hazards include chemicals in the air, ground, and water; weather; and characteristics of our physical and social environment
- Exposures are chemicals from the environment found in people's bodies
- Health effects are diseases and conditions like asthma, cancer, or heart attacks that might result from exposure to those hazards.
- Population characteristics include poverty, tobacco use and social/economic factors that are important determinants of health.
Using data to protect communities and improve health
Local public health professionals, state and local agencies, researchers, non-profit organizations, and individuals use environmental public health tracking data to:
- Recognize health, exposure patterns and trends over time;
- Identify health disparities and vulnerable populations on which to focus limited resources,
- Inform policies to protect public health,
- Evaluate how effective current policies are, and
- Determine new opportunities for research.
CDC National Tracking Program grantee
For many years, no system existed at the state or national level to track many of the exposures and health effects that might be related to environmental hazards. In 2002, the CDC established the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program to build a sustainable national data tracking network and bridge the gap between public health and the environment. Currently, the CDC maintains the National Tracking Network, which integrates health and environment data from 26 states, including Minnesota, and New York City (Map).
Using data from many sources
The success of MN Tracking and the National Tracking Network depends on strong partnerships and collaboration with local, state and federal agencies — as well as engaged communities and individuals who are empowered to take action to protect health. Data come from several sources, including programs at the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Carefully evaluating new data topics
MN Tracking uses a systematic evaluation process to guide the development and adoption of new state-specific data topics. For more information, see Evaluation Process for Adopting New Content Areas.
Collaborating on data use projects and reports
Special reports and analyses for understanding the connections between health and environment are developed in partnership. These projects include the Urban Air Quality and Health Initiative with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, a report on the Economic Burden of the Environment on Children’s Disease, and an online Health Impact Assessment Toolkit for guidance on using data in community health assessments.
MN Tracking also responds to special requests for data from community partners and participates in research.