Louisiana’s Success

Louisiana Tracking Partnership Helps Improve Data Quality and Processes

Outdated geocoding methods provide inaccurate data

Childhood blood lead data is maintained by the Louisiana Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (LHHCLPPP) and provided to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Tracking Program, where data analysts geocode the data. “Geocoding” refers to the process of transforming a description of a location—such as an address, name of a place, or coordinates—to a location on the Earth’s surface. While helping geocode the data, the Louisiana Tracking data analysts identified problems with the methods used for previously geocoded datasets. These outdated methods resulted in missing or inaccurate addresses, which makes it difficult for public health professionals to accurately identify areas in need of childhood blood lead poisoning services.

Tracking helps improve data methods and quality

In 2021, through a collaboration with the LDH Bureau of Health Informatics, Louisiana Tracking enhanced and standardized geocoded childhood blood lead data provided by LHHCLPPP. In addition, Louisiana improved accessibility by adding these data to the publicly available Louisiana Tracking Data Explorer. Now childhood blood lead data can be viewed in maps, charts, and tables that can be viewed, printed, and downloaded. In addition, Louisiana Tracking worked with the CDC Tracking Program to make state environment and health data available at the census tract level on CDC’s Data Explorer tool.

Higher resolution data assist in identifying at-risk populations

Standardizing the geocoding procedure and improving the quality of geocoded data allow users to more accurately identify potential risk areas for childhood blood lead poisoning. The LDH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program can now identify areas for increased outreach on childhood blood lead screening, so that more children at higher risk of childhood blood lead poisoning can be identified and assisted to prevent childhood blood lead poisoning and harmful health effects. In addition, the increased availability of childhood lead data on Louisiana’s Data Explorer improves the availability of important childhood lead screening data to the public and other community partners to learn more about lead poisoning risks in their area and take appropriate action.

Louisiana’s BREATHE Initiative Fills a Crucial Gap in Asthma Intervention

Experts identify vulnerabilities in greater Baton Rouge

Asthma is one of the biggest health burdens in Louisiana; 1 in 10 Louisianans suffer from asthma. A local physician voiced concerns with pediatric asthma rates in an industrial area of Baton Rouge, and how health inequities may also play a role in elevated asthma rates. These observations prompted Louisiana’s Tracking Program to conduct a data review study that identified areas with high social and environmental vulnerability, such as low income levels and reduced air quality, in Greater Baton Rouge and throughout the state.

Using data to expand environmental justice initiatives

To help address the social and environmental vulnerabilities identified in the data review study, the Louisiana Tracking Program developed the Bringing Respiratory Health Equity for Asthmatics Through Healthier Environments (BREATHE) initiative. BREATHE provides asthma services and resources to patients in socially and environmentally vulnerable areas of the state with a high burden of COVID-19 and asthma. The initiative was granted a Green & Healthy Homes (GHHI) award to start working in the community.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) employees conducted virtual home visits for asthmatics and partnered with COVID-19 contact tracers to receive referrals of COVID-19 patients affected by asthma. Utilizing program funding, LDH focused BREATHE interventions and piloted BREATHE Virtual Home Visits in socially and environmentally vulnerable areas of the state with a high burden of COVID-19 and asthma. In addition, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital provided referrals to BREATHE for their patients with poorly controlled asthma or home environmental concerns.

Award-winning initiative addresses needs of patients with asthma through virtual home visits

Before BREATHE launched, there was no statewide asthma program that brought together managed care organizations, Medicaid services, LDH, and private and community groups. Through this partnership, the BREATHE program provided virtual services to improve asthma health outcomes in socially and environmentally vulnerable areas. For its success, LDH Tracking’s BREATHE initiative was awarded the National Environmental Health Association Gold Award for Environmental Innovation.

Deepwater Horizon (British Petroleum) Oil Spill

Louisiana Environmental Tracking Program Logo

What is the problem?

On April 20, 2010, a drill rig explosion caused about 4.9 million barrels of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion killed 11 platform workers and injured 17. Marine and wildlife habitats were severely affected, and the fishing and tourism industries of U.S. coastal states were devastated.

What did Tracking do?

The Louisiana Tracking Program has been developing an oil spill response plan in collaboration with CDC/ATSDR*, CDC/NIOSH+, and agencies from other affected Gulf Coast states. Survey- and map-based tracking systems were developed to capture and track health complaints and environmental monitoring results. In addition, the Louisiana Tracking Program worked with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to make sure that outreach materials were available in several languages and available to those with limited Internet access.

Improved public health

The Louisiana Tracking Program worked with the state health department to notify OSHA about workplace exposures and health complaints from emergency response workers. Interventions were held to educate response workers, residents, and health care providers on topics such as personal protective equipment, seafood safety, chemicals of concern, potential routes of exposure, and associated health effects.

*Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
+National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health


Addressing concerns from imported drywall

crumbling drywall renovation

What is the problem?

After Hurricane Katrina, rebuilding throughout the Gulf states greatly increased the demand for drywall. In February 2009, the state health department began getting health complaints from residents who had rebuilt their homes using imported drywall. The health complaints included headaches, respiratory infections, eye irritations, dry coughs, and nosebleeds.

What did Tracking do?

The Louisiana Tracking Program began logging cases from call-in surveys that captured information such as the physical characteristics of the home, exposure duration, and health effects experienced by members of the household. The cases were mapped to assess the magnitude of the health problem and to track locations. State health department staff worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify drywall exposure cases for indoor air testing.

Improved public health

Air monitoring results helped staff identify the chemicals of most concern and develop a public health plan of action. Public health messages provided residents information and ideas on how to reduce exposure and remove tainted drywall from their homes.


Carbon Monoxide Exposures

gas powered generator

What is the problem?

Louisiana tracking staff reviewed data from the Louisiana Poison Control Center (LPCC) to evaluate how often LPCC was receiving calls about carbon monoxide (CO). The review showed that exposure and deaths increased sharply during winter months and after hurricane-related power outages, mostly because generators were not being used safely.

What did Tracking do?

The Louisiana Tracking staff requested changes to Louisiana’s Reporting Rule Requirements for CO poisonings and deaths. The proposed rule change was passed, and as a result, cases of CO exposure or poisoning must be reported to the State Health Officer within five business days.

Improved public health

The health department now has the ability to

  • Identify the areas that are expected to have high CO exposure rates during hurricane events and power outages.
  • Quickly identify the areas where outreach and education will have the greatest effect.

This should lead to fewer CO-related exposures and deaths.


Educating private well water users about contamination

Water well with bucket

What is the problem?

Louisiana has a large number of residential water wells located within one mile of either an operating or abandoned wood preservation or wood treatment facility. No Louisiana law requires private well water testing. This limits the ability to assess potential exposures to chemicals through well water.

What did Tracking do?

In partnership with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the state’s Safe Drinking Water Program, the Louisiana Tracking staff conducted a pilot project to link environmental, exposure, and health outcome data around wood preservation and treatment sites. The pilot project included

  • Compiling groundwater and drinking water data from areas near 22 inactive wood preservation and treatment facilities.
  • Compiling data on bladder, lung, and all-sites cancers in areas surrounding wood preservation facilities.
  • Establishing the Private Well Water Education Initiative to register private wells.

Improved public health

As a result of the pilot project, many residents who have private water wells contacted the health department to obtain a list of places where they can test their well water. This should help reduce potential exposures to contaminated well water.


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