Daily News Archive
From March 25, 2002

Bill Introduced to Improve Environmental Health Tracking

Certain areas in this country exist where chronic diseases occur at a higher rate than usual. For example, on Long Island in NY, there is a higher than usual incidence of breast cancer. In Fallon, NV, childhood leukemia is above average. In order to better understand these aberrations, Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced legislation last Thursday that would set up a national environmental health tracking system. The system would track chronic disease on a national scale, and research the possible causes such as the environment and behavior. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Peter King (R-NY), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have introduced companion legislation to the House of Representatives.

Thus far, states have been in charge of setting up their own tracking systems. Since the quality and extent of each state program varies, it is difficult to link together each state's data in order to understand causes of chronic diseases. The proposed nationwide network would remedy this problem by setting minimum standards that each state system must meet. Funding and technical assistance would be provided if needed. In addition, data will be coordinated and compiled from across the country. This information would be made publicly available through a national environmental health report. If a cluster is located, the legislation provides a rapid-response system to aid the area.