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Environmental Health Tracking

Public Health Ontario is currently examining the feasibility of developing an environmental health tracking (EHT) information system for Ontario. This system will integrate environment and health data, and provide online access to visualize and better understand environmental health issues across the province. 

Potential uses include:  
  • characterizing, monitoring and forecasting trends 
  • identifying populations at risk 
  • resource allocation
  • risk assessment
  • developing and evaluating environmental health programs and policies 
  • incident management and public engagement
  • identifying environmental health data gaps  

The system will provide comprehensive, accurate and easily accessible data to public health practitioners in a timely manner. The ultimate goal of this work will be to facilitate the development and evaluation of evidence-based environmental health programs and policies in Ontario.

Our approach to this project was presented at the 26th International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Conference in Seattle, WA on August 28, 2014.        


April 2016 Project Update

Our first pilot project, the Raw Water Contaminants map, is now available. The Raw Water Contaminants map provides information from untreated water sampling programs to support risk assessments of small drinking water systems. It includes specific information on chemical contaminants relevant to public health and human health guidelines and standards. The data presented in this mapping application has been provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change under the Open Government License. As part of the development of this tool, we engaged public health practitioners to participate in the beta-testing of this project.



Past Updates  

August 2015 Project Update

Our second pilot project, “The Environmental Noise Survey” is nearing completion for the Greater Toronto Area. We are now looking to expand this project to other areas of Ontario. If your public health unit would like to better understand the spatial and temporal distribution of noise levels throughout your region, please contact our team.

May 2015 Project Update

Our third pilot project, “An assessment of the utility of Ontario Poison Centre data for public health practice” began April 2015. Through this exciting new collaboration we are currently examining population exposures to carbon monoxide, pesticides, lead and mercury.

February 2015 Project Update

Our second pilot project, “The Environmental Noise Survey” will be presented at the Ontario Public Health Convention in March. This 90-minute workshop will describe how noise data have been collected for the Greater Toronto Area and discuss future plans. There will also be ample opportunity for participants to speak with the project team and get hands on experience with sampling equipment.

November 2014 Project Update

We would like to thank the public health practitioners who participated in beta-testing our first pilot project, “Raw Water Contaminates”. We will be compiling the results in to a report that will help us further develop this pilot project. We are also currently identifying and assessing data for future pilot projects. Please contact us if there is a specific data source or environmental health topic that you would like us to prioritize.

August 2014 Project Update

We would like to thank the public health practitioners who participated in our environmental health needs assessments.

Online Survey

More than 100 individuals responded to our online survey. The majority of responses indicated that limited data exist to examine environmental health topics and that establishing EHT in Ontario could help public health practitioners and policy makers. Priority data gaps are highlighted below. 



Our one-day workshop was attended by 54 participants from public health units, PHO, provincial ministries, federal agencies, and other organizations. Facilitated sessions about the content, design, and use of EHT highlighted numerous priority areas for this work.

Literature Review

Our literature review has identified EHT activities in various jurisdictions throughout the world and unique uses of data for environmental health. We have also consulted with experts throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. The findings of our review and expert consultations have been used to develop a proposal for establishing EHT in Ontario. The proposed content and design of the system has been developed to address the findings of our needs assessments. We are continuing to develop the proposal document and it will eventually be circulated to those who participated in our needs assessments.

Pilot Project

Our first pilot project, an online application that describes chemical contaminants in Ontario raw water, will undergo beta-testing during fall 2014. These evaluations will help to shape the design of our final environmental health tracking applications and the content of future pilot projects.

Progress to date on this project was presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Canadian Public Health Association.  


Get involved!  

We welcome your comments on how environmental health tracking could be best designed to meet the current (and future) needs of public health practitioners across the province. If you would like to comment or provide feedback on this work, please email  ​​

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