Missouri environmental hazard information now online

Thursday, June 18, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 4:29 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 18, 2009

COLUMBIA — Missourians can now look up information about carbon monoxide illnesses, blood lead levels in children and other environmental hazards and health concerns with the launch of a portal by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.   

The department has created the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network Portal, a Web-based system for providing information on environmental hazards across the state. The portal had a soft launch in April but is now fully up and running.

Missouri’s portal is part of a national effort to close gaps in what the public knows about environmental health hazards, according to a news release from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“We hope that in developing a tool that the public can use, we can foster a better understanding of the importance of public health in everyone’s life,” Margaret Donnelly, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said in the release.

Currently, information on the rates of carbon monoxide illnesses and blood lead levels in children under 6 can be found on the Web site. Both of these data sets have interactive maps, and information can be viewed by county, ZIP code, calendar year or test result. 

“We are trying to be a storehouse for accurate information in one source rather than having to search multiple databases or Web sites," said Patty Osman, environmental surveillance manager for the Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology.  

Information about other health concerns will be added to the site, including  hyperthermia, hypothermia, adult blood lead testing data and information on radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer in America, according to Osman.

Missouri is one of 16 states along with New York City to receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to build state tracking network portals,  the release states.

The need for a national health-tracking network was cited in a report from the Pew Environmental Health Commission. The report, “America’s Environmental Health Gap: Why the Country Needs a Nationwide Health Tracking Network," states that the existing environmental health system is inadequate and unorganized, recommending the creation of a “National Health Tracking Network for disease and exposures,” according to the Missouri portal Web site.


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