Feb 28, 2011

Pennsylvania Health Department Launches Environmental Health Information Website

Site allows public to track water quality, air quality and more

The Pennsylvania Department of Health launched a new website for the Pennsylvania Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, or PA EPHTN, that allows the public to track health challenges and environmental-related diseases such as asthma.

"Keeping Pennsylvanians safe from potential environmental health hazards remains a top priority for the Department of Health," said acting Secretary of Health Dr. Eli Avila. "This new website contains important information to help the public identify potential environmental health threats and will ultimately allow individuals and communities to make better-informed public health decisions."

The PA EPHTN website, online at www.health.state.pa.us/epht, is a groundbreaking environmental health tool that is part of a national initiative supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help states gather more information about the environment's impact on health.

The website provides health information and data along with explanations about what the data means. Users can also search for information about the data including sources, ownership and dates of creation.

Information will be provided on public health topics and their significance to Pennsylvanians, including: cancer, vital statistics, lead poisoning, air quality, water quality, asthma and heart attacks. In the near future, the system also will provide information on carbon monoxide poisoning, pesticides, toxic chemical releases and arsenic in groundwater.

"Pennsylvania's tracking network aims to dramatically reduce the time it takes the Department of Health and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to detect emerging environmental public health threats, including disease clusters, and to respond to community concerns," Avila said.

Pennsylvania is one of 23 states and the city of New York to receive this type of funding from the CDC. For more information about the Department of Health's EPHTN Program, visit www.health.state.pa.us. For more information on CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, visit www.cdc.gov/ephtracking.