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Tracking Network Data Can Inform HIAs

Bench in city parkCDC's Tracking Network is an excellent data source for environmental hazards, exposures, and health conditions that can be a valuable asset to the health impact assessment process.

CDC's Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) connects people with vital public health information. It has data and information that can be used for a wide variety of environmental and public health efforts like conducting health impact assessments.

Health Impact Assessments

A health impact assessment (HIA) is a process to evaluate the potential positive and negative public health effects of a plan, project, or policy before it is approved, built, or implemented. HIAs have been used to inform decision-making processes for transportation, land use, climate change, and other sectors. Conducting an HIA requires access to high-quality data about many different areas that affect our health including environmental, cultural, economic, and social conditions.

Worker on site with laptop

HIAs can inform decision-making processes for transportation, land use, climate change, and other sectors.

How Tracking Helps

CDC's Tracking Network is an excellent data source for environmental hazards, exposures, and health conditions that can be a valuable asset to the HIA process. The Tracking Network provides national data as well as state and local data. Check out the HIA data guide for suggestions on how to use Tracking Network data for HIAs.

The data may be used in several HIA steps including scoping, assessment, and evaluation.

  • Scoping
    When conducting HIAs, scoping is a process that defines what the assessment will address, including geographic and time boundaries, health issues, people potentially affected, and data sources. Scoping helps create a viable work plan and timeline. The Tracking Network can be useful for two specific parts of the scoping step: Pathway diagrams and Identifying questions and data.
  • Assessment
    In this step of an HIA, Tracking Network data may be used to evaluate the health effects and benefits of a plan, project, program, or policy by:
    • Assessing baseline health conditions.
    • Identifying and characterizing vulnerable populations, health disparities, and health inequities.
    • Evaluating the direction and magnitude of potential health effects due to changes in exposure or actions to protect health.
  • Monitoring & Evaluation
    Tracking Network data are updated on an ongoing basis. This makes Tracking Network data especially useful for monitoring and evaluating actions and decisions over time.

Tracking Programs Provide Consultation and Expertise

The Tracking Program includes CDC staff and public health department staff in 23 states and 1 large city with expertise in:

  • Data analysis and interpretation.
  • Data visualization (charts, maps/GIS).
  • Communication message development and risk communication.

HIA practitioners who have questions about tracking data, or need technical assistance, may contact CDC's National Tracking Program or the state and local tracking programs.

Traffic jam emissions

The California Tracking Program’s traffic tool makes it easier to access and use CalTrans traffic data for public health activities like identifying locations more likely to be exposed to pollution from traffic.

Tracking in Action: California's Traffic Tool

The California Tracking Program developed a traffic tool to make it easier to access and use CalTrans traffic data for public health activities. People can use the tool to

  • Calculate a range of traffic features, such as the average number of vehicles traveling near a location per day.
  • Find out how much traffic passes through any geography, such as a zip code, neighborhood, or another custom area around a specific address.
  • Understand better the possible links between air pollution and health by comparing traffic tool data with health data from the CA Tracking Network or other sources.

Several state agencies have used the traffic tool including the Bay Area Air Quality Management District which uses the traffic tool to determine if a proposed project will increase risks of exposure to traffic pollutants. The CA Environmental Protection Agency used the traffic tool to identify locations more likely to be exposed to pollution from traffic. The agency added this information to its screening tool which identifies communities likely to be affected most by environmental exposures and poor health.

Stay informed about new Tracking Network data and features by joining our list-serv.

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