Frequently Asked Questions
What is Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT)?
Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) is a nationally integrated environmental and public health information system. It is designed to provide data and information to all those who can use it to make better decisions to improve health as well as taking care of the environment.
What is the purpose of EPHT, and why is it important?
The purpose of the EPHT is to make environmental health data and information available in the same format from all of the states and track the collected data over a period of time and area. Linking environmental and health data will enable a timely response to potential health problems related to the environment.
This process is important because: 1) it facilitates the evaluation of possible trends in health effects and, 2) it empowers stakeholders with knowledge to make healthier choices while encouraging stakeholders to take care of the environment.
What is an EPHT content area and why were they chosen for this program?
The content areas are the list of broad categories (for example: Air Quality, Cancer, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, etc.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the content areas for EPHT and chose them because there are state-level data available for each one of them. Additional content areas will be added over time.
What is an EPHT indicator and why were they chosen for this program?
In the EPHT Program, the indicators chosen for each content area provide a way to further define pollutants in the environment or specific health effect or disease. For instance, the indicators for Air Quality are ozone and particulate matter (PM 2.5) as they help us understand the effects of air pollution. Both air pollutants can aggravate asthma and other respiratory diseases. The chosen indicators are those for which historical data is already available in most states.
What is an EPHT measure and why were they chosen for this program?
In the EPHT Program measures are used to further define indicators. For environmental content areas, the measures are often related to whether or not a result meets or exceeds a standard; for health related content areas, measures are typically a count of the number of cases or the rate of disease. For instance, the measure for Air Quality for ozone and particulate matter (PM 2.5) are the number of days above the standard and the percent of the population that is affected in the areas above the standard.
The graphic below shows the relationship between Content Area, Indicators, and Measures
Why can't I view health and/or environmental data for the most current years?
The years of data that we can make available to you depend on the program area from which the data comes. In order for data to be "released" and made available for us to provide to you, it requires for the current year to be over (i.e. after December 31), a statistical review, and/or a certification process. In the case of health data, this rigorous process can put the data release more than a year behind what you would expect to have available. Environmental data is typically only half a year behind.