Using Environmental Health Tracking Resources for Health Impact Assessment: Informing Decision Making in Oregon

Nancy M. Goff, MPH

 

Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) is a nationwide initiative that involves the ongoing collection, integration, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of data on environmental hazards, human exposures and health effects. Oregon is one of several states funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help develop the national EPHT network.  EPHT allows users to begin to link the pollutants in our air, water, soil and food with chronic disease through integrating environmental and public health surveillance systems. The goal of the EPHT program is to provide information that drives actions to improve the health of communities. To realize this goal, the Oregon EPHT program is working to provide information to one group of users, decision makers, about the potential health impacts of proposed projects and policies.

 

This process, sometimes called Health Impact Assessment (HIA), is one way that the data and information gathered by EPHT can be applied to promote healthy communities. Oregon EPHT has collected information and data about child blood lead, air and water quality, asthma and myocardial infarction hospitalizations, and vital statistics, and is currently developing built environment indicators. Oregon EPHT has informed local project and policy proposals through consultation, provision of data, and capacity building activities.

 

Specific activities have included EPHT staff participation in:

1.      A regional HIA workgroup that identifies and addresses various opportunities for promoting the integration of health and other sectors, and

2.      An HIA of a local transportation project.

 

These activities have paved the way for an HIA initiative within the State Office of Environmental Public Health. This presentation discusses these efforts as well as future plans to sustain the initiative.