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Special Projects

Title: Air and Cardiovascular Disease Co-Display
Participants: Connecticut, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina
In the United States, cardiovascular disease is a major cause of illnesses and deaths in both men and women. In 2004, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement concluding that exposure to air pollution contributes to cardiovascular illness and mortality.  The relationship between air quality and cardiovascular disease is well established in the literature, yet there are few publicly available sources of information that co-display these datasets and provide a visual representation of the data.  The Air and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Co-Display project developed methods for the simultaneous display of select air quality and CVD measures.  It is important to note that this project is not meant to identify causal relationships between two measures, but to provide simple ecological comparisons on a single map, graph or chart. This project translated environmental and public health data into meaningful information to increase the knowledge of public health practitioners and other data consumers who will apply this new knowledge to improve community health.

Title: Community Environmental Health Profiles
Participants: Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, South Carolina, Wisconsin
The current structure of the Tracking Network is based on topic, not location.  Local health officers and public health professionals need access to community profiles that provide a snapshot of data measures at the highest resolution available. These community profile reports combine environmental and related health measures into community-specific profiles using existing Tracking infrastructure and data. Participating states developed reports that can be used by communities, local health departments, coalitions, and other stakeholders to assess and monitor environmental health issues over time.  The information in these reports could help inform policy interventions and other public health actions.


Title: Economic Burden of Environmental Diseases in Children
Participants: California, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire
Environmentally-related diseases among children have significant costs, not only from medical services but on quality of life. Participating states are working on state-specific reports describing the economic burden of several childhood health conditions including asthma, cancer, and lead poisoning. Quantifying the costs of these diseases can help inform public health actions and document a return on investment of public health dollars. Reports are expected in late 2014.  


Title: Health Impact Assessment Toolkit: Promoting Health in All Policies
Participants: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, New York City, South Carolina, CDC
Description:  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. The goal of this project was to demonstrate the usefulness and accessibility of Tracking Network data for conducting HIAs to a wide audience including practitioners and stakeholders.  A toolkit was developed that includes a data users’ guide, diagrams that illustrate examples of use, and links to additional CDC and HIA organization resources.  You can find all of these tools and examples at


Title: Private Well Water Display  
Participants: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin  
Approximately 15% of the U.S. population obtains their drinking water from private domestic wells.  These wells are largely unregulated and testing the safety of this water for drinking is almost always the responsibility of the well owner.  High levels of naturally occurring arsenic, uranium, manganese, radon, and fluoride have been reported in private well water in a number of states (ref).  Participating states worked to display private well water data as tables, charts, and maps on their state portals.  Vulnerability maps were also developed to help public health practitioners understand areas most affected by different contaminants.    


Title: Simultaneous Presentation of Lung Cancer Incidence, Smoking, and Radon Data
Participants: Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Vermont
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.   However, exposure to radon is also associated with lung cancer.  Further, people who are exposed to tobacco smoke and radon have an amplified risk of lung cancer (ref).  Better understanding and visualization of the geographical distribution of lung cancer incidence, smoking prevalence, and potential radon exposure will allow health and environmental agencies and interested stakeholders to target outreach activities focused on smoking cessation, radon testing, and promotion of radon exposure prevention.  Participating states developed methods to display lung cancer, smoking, and radon data at the same time.   Each state particpating in the project developed outreach materials and activities that encouraged smoking cessation, radon testing, and radon remediation.  You can learn about their work through this previously recorded webinar.  


Title: Social Determinants of Health: Creating Indices to Access Disparities in Health and Environmental Exposure for Small Area Geographies
Participants:  Colorado, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Utah
No health burden or exposure to an environmental factor can be fully understood or effectively addressed without first understanding the socio-demographic characteristics that make up a community, such as poverty, unemployment, education, race and ethnicity.  For example, does the relationship between race and low birth weight incidence vary across small area geographies?   The risk of living in an unhealthy community is not equal across all races or income and education levels.   Health professionals recognize the impact of socio-demographic and economic factors on health outcomes.  Participating states collaborated to develop a standardized process for utilizing geographic data analysis tools to assess disparities in health and environmental exposure for vulnerable populations in small geographic areas.