Health Effects

It is challenging to establish the connections about how an illness may be related to environmental hazards or exposures. Some adverse health effects, like carbon monoxide poisoning, can have quick short-term harmful results as a result of exposure. Other adverse health outcomes, like certain cancers, may take years or even decades to develop as a result of exposure. The LDH Tracking Program is putting both Health and Environmental data together to assist in identifying and exploring the connections.The LDH Tracking Program includes the following health data:


Adult Obesity

Weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height is described by health practicioners as overweight or obese. Nearly one out of four adults in Louisiana is considered obese, and Louisiana currently ranks among the top states in the United States for both adult and childhood obesity.


Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes the airways that carry air into and out of the lungs to become irritated and swollen, which causes less air to flow into the lungs. Symptoms of asthma include reoccurring episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

Birth Defects

Birth defects are conditions that are present at birth. They cause structural changes in one or more parts of the body, and may have serious adverse effects on health, development, or functional ability.  


Birth Outcomes

Reproductive and birth outcome information collected and tracked by the LDH Tracking Program include low birth weight, prematurity, mortality, fertility, and male-to-female sex ratio.


Cancer is a general term for disease in which abnormal cells in the body divide uncontrollably and invade other tissues. Cancer can occur in any organ and in any cell type within the body. Cancer cells spread throughout the body through the blood and lymph systems.  There are over 100 different kinds of cancer, many of which form solid tumors, or masses of tissue. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemia, generally do not form solid tumors.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless and colorless gas that can come from a variety of sources. Breathing high levels can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause severe illness or even death is just minutes.  For this reason, carbon monoxide is often referred to as an invisible killer.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Respiratory diseases, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are among the nation’s most common and costly chronic conditions. People with COPD are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, and at lower levels than people without COPD. Exposure to air pollution has been linked to increases in COPD-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations (CDC Tracking).


Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. When we eat, our bodies turn the food we eat into glucose, which is a type of sugar. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, creates a hormone called insulin that helps glucose get into cells where it can be used for energy. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or it doesn’t use insulin as well as it should. This can cause sugar to build up in the body. Insulin levels also affect carbohydrate, lipid, protein and mineral metabolism.

Heart Attack

An acute myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, occurs when the blood supply to the heart is severely reduced or completely blocked. During a heart attack, heart muscle cells do not receive enough oxygen and begin to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart.

Heat Stress

Heat stress, also known as heat-related illness, is a preventable illness that occurs when heat exposure exceeds the physiologic capacity to cool and the core body temperature rises. When this happens, a range of heat-related symptoms and conditions may develop. Heat stress illnesses include, but are not limited to, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope, or heat rash.

Occupational Health

Occupational health surveillance is the tracking of injuries, illnesses, hazards, and exposures that may be work-related. Any work place can have hazards that put workers at risk for occupational health injuries and illnesses.