Environmental Epidemiology Program
The Environmental Epidemiology Program works to keep people safe from harmful chemicals and to help them live in wholesome environments that promote healthy lifestyles. We respond to questions about the human health impacts of environmental pollution. We collect surveillance data on acute chemical releases and poisonings. We investigate sites where people may be at risk of chemical exposure and recommends actions to keep people safe. Daily, we assist residents with a wide variety of questions to them maintain safe and healthy homes. We also promote designing healthy places to improve the quality of life for all who live, work, study or play in Tennessee.
The Environmental Epidemiology Program supports all 95 counties in Tennessee. We work with our local, regional and metropolitan health departments as well as with other state agencies like the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The majority of EEP’s funding comes through a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). We also work on environmental projects with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the years, we have provided assistance to concerned citizens, local governments and legislative officials.
Environmental pollution from hazardous waste sites can harm human health. Tennessee has an active Partnership to Promote Localized Efforts to Reduce Environmental Exposure, or APPLETREE Program. We work in partnership with ATSDR. Based on environmental data, program staff members perform environmental investigations and prepare public health assessments, health consultations, exposure investigations, community involvement activities and technical assistance. These reports evaluate exposure to present conclusions, make recommendations and plan corrective actions. Our work is commonly reviewed by the federal ATSDR to ensure that it is based on sound science and national guidelines. Our list of publications to view or download includes public health assessments, consultations, fact sheets and other reports.
Environmental hazards in the home harm millions of people each year in the United States. A healthy home can prevent illness and injuries. A healthy home is designed, built and maintained to support health. EEP promotes Healthy Homes – a coordinated, comprehensive and holistic approach to preventing diseases and injuries that result from housing related-hazards and deficiencies.
A healthy home reassures health and wellness by preventing illness and injury. Our Healthy Homes Website presents topics like mold, radon, lead, carbon monoxide, mercury, pesticides and unintentional injuries. It has tips for every room in the home as well as information for home owners and renters. Learn The 7 Principles of a Healthy Home and you can promote good health and wellness for you and your family.
For many years, the Environmental Epidemiology Program has helped Tennesseans with their environmental concerns. People call or email their questions about indoor air quality, radon, lead-based paint, mercury, and other topics. People are often concerned about mold in their homes, what to do after breaking a mercury thermometer, or how to protect against carbon monoxide exposure. For the past two years, our program tracked the reasons why peopled asked for assistance. This Inquiry Tracker iDashboard is a result of our health tracking effort. Anyone can use the Inquiry Tracker iDashboard to review what environmental health issues are common in Tennessee. Information available includes whether the home was rented or owned, where calls came from, and what resources were provided to residents. Note the Inquiry Tracker iDashboard is not a historic record of all of our calls. Rather it is a visual expression of calls received in 2013-2018. We plan to update the Inquiry Tracker iDashboard each year.
EEP is planning to correlate environmental exposures to hazardous substances with adverse health effects in populations as a part of CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. CDC's Tracking Program has laid the foundation of this national system by providing grants to state and local health departments. Tennessee was a fellow in CDC’s EPHT Network of integrated health, exposure and hazard information and data from a variety of national, state and city sources. Our goal is to be a fully-funded partner. Ultimately, Environmental Public Health Tracking will be able to provide current, relevant and accurate information about environmental exposures and health outcomes.
Toxic substance incidents can result in death, illness or injury. Such events frequently require public health protective actions such as evacuations, in-place sheltering or decontaminations. Tennessee’s National Toxic Substance Incidents Program performs acute chemical exposure surveillance through CDC’s National Toxic Substance Incidents Program. EEP collects information on toxic substance or harmful materials incidents. These materials include chemicals, radiation, and naturally-occurring matter that could cause harm to people or the environment.
Acute toxic incidents range from illicit methamphetamine lab explosions in homes to chemical suicides in automobiles and from industrial chemical releases to transportation accidents. Data is gathered through our partnerships with the National Response Center, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and Department of Transportation as well as from news media reports. Information is uploaded into the NTSIP database within 48 hours of an incident. NTSIP surveillance data is used to prepare prevention messages to protect the general public from chemical exposure.
EEP encourages communities to be designed with opportunities to maintain active, healthy lifestyles. We understand the value of performing Health Impact Assessments (HIA) to evaluate the potential health effects of a plan, project, or policy before it is built or implemented. The Healthy Places Website is a great resource for information about active transportation, land use, healthy buildings, environmental quality and recreation.
EEP recognizes the public health implications of global climate change. Planning and building resilient communities helps people get back to normal living and economic conditions after severe weather, accidents or natural disasters. Read more about climate change and public health by clicking the tabs on this webpage.
EEP provides education and community involvement for persons interested in or affected by exposure to hazardous substances. We provide general information on a variety of environmental public health topics. Click the links for topics such as asbestos, lead, mercury, mold, ozone or radon.