When we think of the environment and how it impacts health, we tend to think of the earth and our natural environment - the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. Humans are connected and a part of their natural environment. However, we may also spend a great deal of time in our homes, at work, in school, or in other buildings. We breathe indoor air, and consume or use household products, cosmetics, and medicines. Environmental hazards may include any chemicals or toxins we come into contact with that can cause harm. An example would be lead paint in the home or particulate matter in outdoor air. The presence of a hazard does not necessarily mean that health problems will occur, but it may cause a disease or other health problem. The LDH Tracking Program is putting both Health and Environmental data together to assist in identifying and exploring the connections. The LDH Tracking Program includes the following environmental indicators:
The National Climate Assessment (U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2014) summarizes the current status of climate change in the United States and outlines potential impacts for the future. Specifically related to the Southeast United States, increasing temperatures and the associated increase in frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme heat events is expected to affect public health, natural and built environments, energy, agriculture, and forestry. While the Health Data Portal currently provides temperature data, these environmental data will be expanded to include emerging climate impacts on the health of Louisiana communities. Various topics to be added to the Portal may include sea level rise and the potential displacement of coastal communities, extreme weather (drought, increased precipitation), wildfire, and vector-borne illness.
Indoor air quality is a term which refers to the air quality within buildings and structures. Indoor air quality can be affected by gases such as carbon monoxide, radon, and volatile organic compounds. Indoor air quality can also be affected by particulates and microbial contaminants such as mold and bacteria. All of these factors can affect the health and comfort of building occupants.
Fish consumption advisories are issued when contaminants are found in fish at levels that may potentially impact the public's health.
Air quality can be affected by a wide variety of pollutants. Air pollutants come from many different sources and can be gaseous chemicals as well as tiny solid and liquid particles. Currently, the LDH Tracking Program presents outdoor air quality data on monitored ground level ozone and particulate matter (PM) that is less than 2.5 micrometers or smaller known as PM2.5.
Toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environmental are released in various amounts by facilities in many different industry sections. These facilities must report annually how much of certain chemicals are released to the environment, managed through recycling, recovered, and treated. The LDH Tracking Program contains information on toxic releases by fixed facilities and transport as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Toxic Release Inventory.
Datasets in Progress
- Hazardous Sites
- Public Drinking Water