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J Community Health. 2007 Oct;32(5):357-74.

Connecting environmental health data to people and policy: integrating information and mobilizing communities for environmental public health tracking.

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Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, 130 DeSoto Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Evaluation of available data is a critical preliminary step in the assessment of local environmental health. As part of a multi-organizational initiative to improve environmental health in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region, the University of Pittsburgh Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) interviewed 70 experts in the academic, government, non-profit, and private sectors and reviewed print and electronic resources to characterize environmental and public health data available in the region. The objectives of this undertaking were: to provide a conceptual framework for categorizing data locally on environmental hazards, exposures and health endpoints, to describe and evaluate the types of environmental public health data available nationally and locally, to identify existing endeavors to gather and categorize such data, and to present case studies on the real-life relevance of the availability or lack of availability of environmental health data. The purpose and relevance of this project, the evolution of the methodology, successes and challenges met, and anticipated next steps are presented. This process description and resulting comprehensive report is available to communities, at both the state and local health department level as well as lay community members, engaged in similar endeavors, to characterize their local and regional environmental health landscape. The framework outlined serves as background for a related statewide environmental health project sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Health through the Pennsylvania Consortium on Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy (PCIEP) and potentially as a foundation for community-based data evaluation for the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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