The CDC invites comments (by May 27) on its request to OMB to approve a proposal to extend operation of the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network for three years.
Tracking Network website: https://ephtracking.cdc.gov/
Invitation to comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/04/27/2020-08793/agency-forms-undergoing-paperwork-reduction-act-review
Submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202004-0920-011
Click on View Supporting Statement for description of purpose, plans, and methods.
Point of contact: Heather Strosnider, Section Chief, CDC 770.488.3827 HStrosnider@cdc.gov
The CDC Environmental Public Health Tracking Network provides accurate and timely standardized data from existing health, exposure, and hazard surveillance systems and supports ongoing efforts within the public health and environmental sectors. The Tracking Network's goal is to improve health tracking, exposure and hazard monitoring, and response capacity. When such data are available, the Tracking Program obtains data from national or public sources in order to reduce the burden on SLHD. When data are not available nationally or publicly, the Tracking Program relies on funded SLHD to obtain and submit these data to the Tracking Network. Data from unfunded SLHD are accepted but not requested or solicited. At present, the Tracking Network collects data from (1) other CDC programs such as the National Center for Health Statistics, (2) other federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, (3) publicly accessible systems such as the Census Bureau, and (4) funded and unfunded state and local health departments (SLHD).
Data submitted annually by SLHD to the Tracking Program include: (1) Birth defects prevalence, (2) childhood lead blood levels, if a SLHD does not already report such data to CDC, (3) community drinking water monitoring, (4) emergency department visits, (5) hospitalizations, and (6) radon testing. The Tracking Program receives childhood lead blood levels data from CDC's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (under the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Surveillance System. A metadata record, a file describing the original source and collection procedures for the data being submitted, is also submitted with each dataset (one per dataset for a total of six metadata records per year) using the Tracking Program's metadata creation tool.
A major function of the Tracking Network is to compile a core set of nationally consistent health and environmental data and measures (NCDMs). The NCDMs have been developed or adopted for the Tracking Network through collaboration with partners and data stewards at the national, state, and local levels. The process of developing an NCDM involves defining the environmental public health question, reviewing the applicability and limitations of existing data, drafting guidelines for creating the NCDM, piloting the creation of the NCDM, and then finalizing the NCDM guidelines and documentation.
Once established, the creation of NCDM begins by extracting the correct data from an existing data source. SLHD extract the necessary data and format the data for submission to the Tracking Program. The Tracking Program then uses the data, as well as data provided by national partners, to calculate the NCDM measures for the public portal. These measures are the tabulation of data into summary statistics such as count, rate (both crude and age adjusted), percent, or concentration over geography and time.
In addition to creating measures for the National Public Portal, the Tracking Program frequently conducts descriptive and trend analyses using methods various statistical tests and regression modeling techniques. The method chosen for each analysis depends on the research question and the available data. Tracking Program staff use the data to conduct analyses that:
• Assess temporal and spatial trends in health, exposure, and environmental hazards
• Monitor known or suspected associations between health and environment
• Generate hypotheses about the association between health and environment
• Develop and test new methods and tools for surveillance
• Facilitate and conduct surveillance summaries and descriptive analyses
Standardized extraction, formatting, and submission processes are developed in collaboration between CDC and SLHD for each dataset. Additions or modifications to these standardized datasets will also be developed collaboratively in order to improve the accuracy, completeness, efficiency, or utility of data submitted to CDC. Such changes will occur at most once a year. Examples of changes to data processes may include: (1) Addition of new variables or outcomes, (2) updates to case definitions, (3) modifications to temporal or spatial aggregation, and (4) changes in formatting for submission.