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Environmental Health Tracking Improves Pesticide Use Data to Enable Research and Inform Public Health Actions in California

2017 | Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

California is the largest agricultural producer in the United States, and, as such, high volumes of pesticides are used throughout the state. Pesticides have a variety of health impacts, and public concerns have spurred mandates on the systematic collection and reporting of agricultural pesticide application data and the establishment of California's Pesticide Use Reporting (PUR) program. Since its inception in 1990, the PUR has amassed millions of records on pesticide applications.

While these data are comprehensive and highly detailed, many public health practitioners may not have the skills or knowledge needed to utilize this complex data set. The California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP) has played an important role in rendering this data set more actionable for public health research, communications, and policy.

Read the article, published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, read a blog post from the study authors, or get started with the California Agricultural Pesticide Mapping Tool.

Pesticides have adverse impacts on the environment and public health. In response to growing public concern over these impacts, California implemented the Pesticide Use Reporting (PUR) program in 1990. The PUR program is widely recognized as the world's most comprehensive pesticide reporting system, and its pesticide application records are highly detailed.

However, the complexity and volume of PUR data require a level of data skills and resources beyond many government agencies, public health professionals, and community stakeholders. Over the past decade, the California Environmental Health Tracking Program has undertaken multiple strategies to make PUR data more accessible, understandable, and useful to a diversity of data users.

In this article, three specific efforts are described in detail—the Pesticide Linkage Service, the Pesticide Mapping Tool, and a policy-relevant analysis on pesticide use near schools—as are their impacts on environmental and public health research, community outreach and education, and policy change.

The California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP) is a collaboration of the Public Health Institute and the California Department of Public Health. CEHTP is part of a national initiative coordinated by the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.


Maxwell J. Richardson, Daniel S. Madrigal, Alexa Wilkie, Michelle Wong, Eric Roberts, Eric Roberts

Produced through PHI's:

Tracking California