Environmental Public Health Tracking Glossary

Biological monitoring or biomonitoring data
Biomonitoring data measure concentrations of a chemical or its breakdown products in the human body. Data are collected by analyzing blood, urine, milk or other tissue samples in the laboratory. These samples can provide physical evidence of current or past exposure to a particular chemical. Biomonitoring data are most often collected as part of a study. Data collection is costly and requires willingness of participants to provide samples.
Environmental hazard
A substance or factor in the environment that might adversely affect human health. People can be exposed to physical, chemical or biological agents from various environmental sources through air, water soil and food. In Environmental Public Health Tracking, environmental hazards include biological toxins, but not infectious agents (e.g. E-coli in drinking water is not included).
Environmental data
There are many different kinds of environmental data. Some provide concentrations of chemicals or other substances and in the land, water, or air that people might be exposed to, and are used to evaluate exposures to these chemicals. Other data provide information about events or facilities that might cause possible environmental exposures, but do not provide enough detail to evaluate exposures. These data are often used to make decisions or set priorities for future environmental health data gathering or regulatory activities.
Environmental health
Understanding how the environment affects human health. The environment is the air we breathe, our water, our surroundings and our food. It's the chemicals, radiation and microbes, and the physical world that have contact with us everyday. Understanding how we interact with the environment is complicated; so is understanding how the environment may affect our health.
Environmental justice
The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, national origin, color or income when developing, implementing and enforcing environmental laws, regulations and policies. Fair treatment means that no group of people, including a racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group, should bear more than its share of negative environmental impacts.
Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT)
The Congressionally-mandated national effort that will establish a network to enable the ongoing collection, integration, analysis, and interpretation of data about the following factors: (1) environmental hazards, (2) exposure to environmental hazards, and (3) health effects potentially related to exposure to environmental hazards.
Epidemiological investigations
These are primarily concerned with the statistical relationships between disease agents, both infectious and non-infectious and diseases. An example might be to establish the risk of lung cancer associated with smoking.
Contact with a contaminant, by breathing, ingestion or touching, and getting it in or on the body. Environmental exposures are examined using both environmental hazard data and biological monitoring data.
Exposure data
Exposure data tell us about the levels of chemicals inside people's bodies, collected by biological monitoring. More information is available about the levels of chemicals in the environment than the levels of chemicals in people, so environmental data are also often used to estimate human exposures.
Health data
Health data provide information about the occurrence of certain diseases and health conditions.
Health effect or health outcome
The disease or health problem itself, such as asthma attacks or birth defects.
A systematic investigation, including the design, implementation, testing and evaluation to contribute to the scientific literature.
Tracking (surveillance)
The systematic ongoing collection, collation and analysis of data and the timely dissemination of information to those who need to know so that action can be taken. In environmental health surveillance, we are interested in examining trends of environmental hazards, exposures and health outcomes. We do this for individual data sets or combinations of data sets.