Kansas Environmental Epidemiology

Environmental Public Health Overview

  • The most important determinant of human health is our habitat.
  • Protecting the environment and preserving our ecosystem are fundamental to preventing human illness
  • Environmental Public Health (EPH) is a segment of public health concerned with assessing, understanding, and controlling the impacts of people on their environment and the impacts of the environment on them.

What Environmental Public Health Is

Environmental public health (EPH) focuses on the relationship between the environment and human health. It is an integrative rather than distinct science. There is not a set, well-defined body of knowledge. Because of the broadly defined parameters of "environment" and "human health" EPH studies a multitude of health conditions that arise from toxin (naturally occurring) and toxic (human-made) agents in air, water, soil, and food.

EPH uses a systems approach. By applying the basic principles of the actions of toxins and toxics, we examine the pathways that create exposures to humans and other biological receptors (e.g., plants, invertebrates, fish, and animals). A vital function of EPH is to evaluate the effect these exposures have on human health. EPH is reliant upon managing information: knowing resources, accessing current and relevant information, and understanding issues of time (often examining future health risks).

Environmental Health Triad

Environmental Public Health Indicators

Environmental Public Health Indicators (EPHIs) can be used to assess our health status or risk as it relates to our environment. EPHIs were first described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) environmental public health indicators project in 2000. These indicators, along with other indicators developed by CSTE, were identified, in part, to provide a means of placing non-infectious diseases and conditions under surveillance towards building a comprehensive National Public Health Surveillance System ( NPHSS). Learn more on the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists website.

The Pew Environmental Health Commission issued a report in January 2001 entitled, "America's Environmental Health Gap: Why the Country Needs a Nationwide Health Tracking Network." The report illustrated the inadequacies of the environmental health system in the U.S. and recommended the creation of a nationwide health tracking network for disease and exposures.


The CDC was provided funding by Congress in 2002 to develop a national environmental tracking network, and to develop state and local capacity for environmental health. The program has helped several states to develop and implement Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT). CDCs intent is to develop a tracking system to integrate data on environmental hazards and exposures with data about diseases with possible links to the environment.

Non-Funded States

In non-funded states, the development of similar capacity and tracking infrastructure is challenging. One mechanism of meeting that challenge has been the development of the State Environmental Health Indicators Collaborative (SEHIC). SEHIC is a voluntary group of environmental health practitioners developing templates and how-to guides to be made available for any state. KDHE began its participation with the SEHIC in February 2006. SuIDE&Rquently, KDHE has helped develop air quality indicators and has piloted air and asthma indicators. The SEHIC is finalizing templates for three topics: asthma, air, and water quality. Once made available, KDHE will post these indicators on the Environmental Public Health webpage.

Graphing the Data

In the interim, we have developed graphs for counties where ambient air monitoring data has been collected, tracking the data over time. The data presented include three types of air pollutants: ozone, PM2.5, and PM10

Kansas Ambient Air Quality Summary Information

Ambient (outdoor) air in Kansas is monitored for several types of pollutants in various locations. For this page, ambient air quality data for counties with monitoring data collected by KDHE in past years is presented in graphic format. Kansas does not monitor air quality in each county throughout the state. However, these data represent ambient air sampling from rural and urban portions of the state. Occasionally equipment is changed or moved, resulting in breaks of monitoring data. For questions regarding these data, contact Matt Unruh, Bureau of Air and Radiation, Air Monitoring and Planning Section, by calling 785-296-0451.

KDHE Hotlines & Links for Environmental Health