(WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced it has received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create an environmental epidemiology program.

The announcement was made on Thursday, July 14, just a day before the end of the CDC’s Tracking Awareness Week.

Beginning in August, the VDH says it will receive $635,000 a year for five years to build environmental epidemiology in the Commonwealth. The creation of a new Virginia Environmental Health Tracking Program (VEHTP) will aid in the building process.

“This grant is a big win for VDH,” State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH, said. “It will allow us to develop environmental epidemiology capacity that will help VDH identify and address environmental exposures and hazards in Virginia, and environmental effects on population health.”

The new program will track environmental hazards, exposures, and health effects to aid in the understanding of how environmental factors impact the health and lives of residents throughout the Commonwealth, according to officials.

The VDH says it will use integrated data sources to identify, monitor, and address health issues arising from or related to environmental factors

VEHTP will track the following indicators:

  • Air quality
  • Asthma
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Lead poisoning
  • Community drinking water quality
  • Heart attacks
  • Infant mortality

A committee will be formed by the VDH to help guide the development of the new program. To learn more information, you can contact the Office of Family Health Services, Division of Population Health Data at population.health@vdh.virginia.gov.