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Pennsylvania to Track Environmental Health Issues

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Pennsylvania’s departments of health and environmental protection have teamed up with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to launch a new website allowing the public to track health challenges and environmental-related disease such as asthma, the agencies announced on February 28.

"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."

In a press release the state Department of Health called the Pennsylvania Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (PA EPHTN) a “groundbreaking environmental health tool that is part of a national initiative supported by the [CDC] to help states gather more information about the environment's impact on health.”

The PA EPHTN website provides health information and data, plus explanations on what the data mean, according to the statement. The site provides public health information vis a vis its significance to Pennsylvanians on topics such as cancer, vital statistics, lead poisoning, air and water quality, asthma and heart attacks and will soon add info on carbon monoxide poisoning, pesticides, toxic chemical releases and groundwater arsenic.

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The goal, Avila said, is 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.”

Pennsylvania joins New York City and 22 other states in receiving this type of funding from the CDC. Read more on the Department of Health's EPHTN Program and the CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. Pennsylvania is home to the Lenape and other tribes including the Shawnee.