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Glossary

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Last Edited: 8/18/10

Glossary

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  • Carcinogenic

    -- A substance that can cause cancer.
  • Cardiovascular

    -- Relating to the heart and blood vessels
  • Chemical

    -- A substance produced by or used in a chemical process
  • Clusters Of Health Events

    -- An unusual aggregation, real or perceived, of health events that are grouped together in time and space and that are reported to a health agency.
  • Confounder

    -- A factor that is related to the exposure being studied and that causes the disease being studied
  • Confounding

    -- When there is a third factor that can cause the disease and that is associated with the exposure present, which may result in a study finding a false association between exposure and disease being studied
  • Contaminant

    -- Substance that is either present in an environment where it does not belong or is present at levels that might cause adverse health effects
  • Contamination

    -- Presence of contaminants in the air, water or soil
  • Data And Information Technology Standards

    -- A set of standards and guidelines for data representation and code values that includes specifications for representing concepts as well as standard code lists for coded elements.
  • Data Linkage

    -- Data linkage refers to the combining of health effects data with exposure and/or hazard data.There are two types of data linkage. One is record linkage, which is a method for joining like records from different databases using textual identifiers that are shared between the databases. For example, birth and death certificates are often linked on person's name, race/ethnicity, date-of-birth, and birth address. The second type is geographic record linkage, which is a method for intersecting records from georeferenced databases having mismatched geography. Geographic record linkage is typically performed in a Geographic Information System (GIS). For example, Census population data reported at the Block Group level can be related to air quality data by overlaying an air basin layer with a Census Block Group layer.
  • Disease Cluster

    -- A closely grouped series of disease cases in a specific area or over a specific period of time
  • Disease Misclassification

    -- Mistaken categorization of people in the wrong disease group in a health study, potentially affecting study results
  • Disease Rate

    -- Measure of how frequently a disease occurs in a population
  • Dose

    -- Amount of a substance to which a person is exposed over some time period
  • Environment

    -- Soil, water, air, biota (plants and animals)
  • Environmental Hazard

    -- An environmental hazard is an agent or factor in the environment that may adversely affect human health. People can be exposed to physical, chemical, or biological agents from various environmental sources through air, water, soil, and food. For this program, environmental hazards include biological toxins, but do not include infectious agents (e.g. E-coli in drinking water is not included).
  • Environmental Hazard Data

    -- There are two types of environmental hazard data: (1) data that is generated from information pertaining to a site or facility (i.e., Toxic Release Inventory data; National Emission Inventory data, etc.) and (2) data that is generated from measurements of contaminates in the air, water, soil, or sediment (i.e., air monitoring data, Safe Drinking Water Information System data, etc.).
  • Environmental Health

    -- A branch of science that tries to understand how interactions with the environment can results in illnesses and death
  • Environmental Justice

    -- The pursuit of equal and fair access to a healthy environment; equal enforcement of environmental regulations; and a movement to protect low-income communities and communities of color from environmental hazards
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

    -- Founded in 1970, EPA's mission is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment-air, water, and land-upon which life depends. EPA provides leadership in the nation's environmental science, research, education, and assessment efforts. EPA works closely with other federal agencies, state and local governments, and Indian tribes to develop and enforce regulations under existing environmental laws. EPA is responsible for researching and setting national standards for a variety of environmental programs and delegates to states and tribes responsible for issuing permits and monitoring and enforcing compliance. Where national standards are not met, EPA can issue sanctions and take other steps to assist the states and tribes in reaching the desired levels of environmental quality. The agency also works with industries and all levels of government in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts. EPA is an active partner in CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network initiative through the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Environmental Public Health

    -- The health of the human population as it relates to the environment.
  • Environmental Public Health Surveillance

    -- Environmental public health surveillance is public health surveillance (see definition) of health effects integrated with surveillance of environmental exposures and hazards. Efforts in environmental public health surveillance and this integration provide a strategic opportunity to link environmental and health data on a local, state, and national level, thereby better equipping the public health community to identify problems and effective solutions to reduce the burden of environment-related health effects in the U.S.
  • Environmental Public Health Tracking (Surveillance) Initiative

    -- The Congressionally-mandated national initiative that will establish a network that will 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. In fiscal year 2002, Congress provided CDC with funding to begin developing the nationwide environmental public health tracking network and to develop capacity in environmental health within state and local health departments. Health effects that are to be included are birth defects, developmental disabilities, neurological/immunologic diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and other non-infectious health effects that may be related to exposure to chemicals, physical agents, biomechanical stressors, or biologic toxins in the environment. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/tracking/ for more information.
  • Environmental Sampling Data

    -- Information gathered from samples of air, water, or soil collected at specific locations to measure contamination
  • Epidemiologist

    -- Scientist who studies the distribution of disease and risk factors of disease in human populations
  • Epidemiology

    -- The study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to the control of health problems.
  • Evaluation

    -- A process that attempts to determine as systematically and objectively as possible the relevance, effectiveness, and impact of activities in the light of their objectives. Several varieties of evaluation can be distinguished, e.g., evaluation of structure, process, and outcome.
  • Existing Health Surveillance System

    -- State-wide or regional health effect registries or surveillance/monitoring existing systems that contain data of sufficient completeness, timeliness, and quality to allow reporting of valid estimates of health effect prevalence, incidence, or mortality for a population. This information should be readily available to health department staff for analysis and dissemination of information to guide public health action. Birth defects registries should include populations with at least 35,000 live births per year. Cancer registry surveillance systems should be limited to those registries who have obtained certification from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR).
  • Exposure

    -- Proximity and/or contact with a source of a disease agent in such a manner that effective transmission of the agent or harmful effects of the agent may occur.
  • Exposure Data

    -- Measures of contaminants in a human body.
  • Exposure Misclassification

    -- Mistakenly categorizing people in the wrong exposure group in a health study, potentially affecting study results
  • Exposure Pathway

    -- The route a substance takes from its source to its end point, and how people can come into contact with it
  • Exposure-Disease Continuum

    -- The sequence of events occurring in the human body between an exposure and appearance of disease symptoms
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

    -- Software technology that enables the integration of multiple sources of data and displaying data in time and space. GIS technology is expected to be a primary tool employed in the nationwide environmental public health tracking network.
  • Groundwater

    -- Water beneath the earth's surface that fills pores between sand, soil or gravel. A major source of water for agricultural and industrial purposes, and an important source of drinking water for about half of all Americans.
  • Hazard

    -- A factor that may adversely affect health.
  • Health Effects

    -- Chronic or acute health conditions that affect the well-being of an individual or community. Health effects are measured in terms of illness and death.
  • Health Outcome

    -- A short- or long-term effect on human health. This website uses the term to describe negative health effects.
  • Incidence

    -- Percentage of a population that develops a particular disease over a period of time
  • Infectious Agent

    -- A living microorganism that enters, invades, or inhabits another organism, causing infection, health effects, and/or contamination.
  • Informatics

    -- In public health, the method or background for current and future efforts to improve the information systems that support essential public health functions.
  • Inhalation

    -- The act of breathing. We can become exposed to a hazardous substance by inhaling it.
  • Intervention

    -- Taking actions in public health so as to reduce adverse health effects, regulatory, and prevention strategies.
  • Latency Period

    -- The period of time between exposure to a carcinogen, toxin, or disease-causing organism and symptoms of a consequent disease
  • Level Of Significance

    -- The p-value specified in advance, such as when planning a study. When planning a research study, scientists commonly choose a level of significance of 5% or less.
  • Modeling

    -- Using of mathematical formulas (statistics or computer analysis) to simulate and predict real events
  • Non-Infectious Agents

    -- Non-living or abiotic force or substance capable of producing adverse health effects.
  • Occupational

    -- Relating to work or employment
  • Occupational Health

    -- Health problems or concerns that occur at work
  • P-Value

    -- Probability that, if the exposure really is not associated with the health outcome, the study will mistakenly conclude that the exposure is associated with the health outcome
  • Persistent Chemicals

    -- Chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment.
  • Pew Environmental Health Commission

    -- In May 1999, the Pew Charitable Trusts launched a blue-ribbon commission charged with proposing recommendations to bolster America's ability to track and prevent health problems linked to environmental conditions. In January 2001, this panel-the Pew Environmental Health Commission-which included leaders from the public policy, health industry, government, academic and nonprofit communities, released a report calling for a nationwide health effects monitoring and tracking network. http://www.pewenvirohealth.jhsph.edu/html/ reports/ trackingcompanion.pdf
  • Pollution

    -- Presence of contaminants in the air, water or soil
  • Precautionary Principle

    -- A principle that promotes proving something is safe before it can be used or implemented to avoid unnecessary health risks, even when absolute proof about potential risks is lacking and when doing so would be costly
  • Prevalence

    -- Percentage of a population that has a particular disease at a given point in time
  • Public Health Surveillance

    -- Ongoing systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health data for use by public health programs
  • Registry (For Exposure Or Disease)

    -- A system of ongoing collection and documentation of information about specific disease or exposure cases in a defined population
  • Relative Risk

    -- How many times greater the disease occurrence in the exposed group is compared to the unexposed group
  • Risk Factors

    -- An activity or condition that may increase the chance of developing a disease (for example, smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer)
  • Socioeconomic Status

    -- A combined measure of an individual or family's economic and social position relative to others, based on such characteristics as income, education, and occupation
  • Source (Of Contamination)

    -- The place where a hazardous substance originates, such as a factory, landfill, waste pond, incinerator, storage tank, or drum
  • Spatial Analysis

    -- Study of phenomena (such as exposure and health outcome) in relation to its distribution across space (such as geographical location)
  • Standard

    -- Something that serves as a basis for comparison.A technical specification or written report drawn up by experts based on the consolidated results of scientific study, technology, and experience; aimed at optimum benefits; and approved by a recognized and representative body.
  • Statistical Test

    -- Gives you information about how likely chance could have produced an apparent connection between exposure and disease. A statistical test used to determine whether an exposure is associated with a disease.
  • Study Power

    -- Probability that, if the exposure really is associated with the health outcome, the study will correctly conclude that the exposure is associated with the health outcome
  • Surface Water

    -- Water that is at the surface of the land, such as lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, floodwater, and runoff
  • Target Population

    -- A group of people living within a specified area or sharing similar characteristics (such as occupation or age) identified as the focus of a study or investigation, or the recipients of specific actions or outreach