August 5, 2009

Database lets researchers, citizens track public health issues

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A new tool for tracking public health issues in Oregon allows researchers to map chronic health conditions alongside environmental factors, such as air and water quality levels, reports Joe Rojas-Burke of The Oregonian. Oregon is now one of 17 states to develop the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The free, public online database is composed of state health and environmental data that has been collected for years. The hope is that researchers and citizens will search for links in the database and track geographic patterns of illness alongside environmental factors. The data can pose some challenges, including unexplained patterns of illness, possibly caused by health factors not yet fully understood. So far, no links have been made, said Curtis Cude, manager of the program for Oregon’s division of public health.

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