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NM EPHT Glossary

Epidemiology and Public Health Terms

The NM EPHT program applies principles of various aspects of population health: epidemiology and response; public and community health; health education and health promotion; and environmental public health. This glossary includes terms and acronyms commonly used on this site, our publications, and communication products.



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Acute myocardial infarction (AMI or MI)

The medical name for a heart attack. A heart attack is a life-threatening condition that occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is abruptly cut off, causing tissue damage. This is usually the result of a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries.


Also called seasonal allergies and hay fever, the onset of symptoms resulting from on-going exposure to pollen that occurs when a person is allergic to pollen or other allergens such as animal dander and dust mites. Often people are allergic to multiple types of pollen such as juniper and ragweed.


A naturally occurring element in the earth's crust. It is widely distributed throughout rocks and soil. It can also be released into the environment from agricultural and industrial activities, such as copper and lead smelting, and wood treatments.

Air Quality

The degree to which the ambient air is pollution-free, assessed by measuring several indicators of pollution.

Air Quality Index (AQI)

The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health affects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.


The evaluation or estimation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something.

Attack Rate

The application or practice of epidemiology to control and prevent health problems.

Applied Epidemiology

A form of incidence that measures the proportion of persons in a population who experience an acute health event during a limited period (e.g., during an outbreak), calculated as the number of new cases of a health problem during an outbreak divided by the size of the population at the beginning of the period, usually expressed as a percentage or per 1,000 or 100,000 population (see also incidence proportion).


A disease that affects the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs.

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The assessment of exposure through direct measurement of environmental chemicals in human specimens, such as blood or urine.

Birth Defects

Birth defects are conditions that happens to a baby while the baby is developing in the mother's body most occurring during the first three months of pregnancy.

Birth Rate, Crude

The number of live births during a specified period divided by the mid-period population, usually expressed per 1,000 population.

Blue-green Algae

Also called cyanobacteria and pond scum, microscopic organisms found naturally in all types of water, including fresh, brackish (combined salt and fresh water), marine water, and slow-moving streams when water is warm and stagnant. Ingestion can have potential health effects.


Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE). The framework from CDC is a five-step process that allows health officials to develop strategies and programs to help communities prepare for the health effects of climate change.

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The name given to a collection of related diseases that start when some of the body's cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.

Cancer Concerns Work Group

The New Mexico Cancer Concerns Work Group responds to concerns from the public, health professionals, or other concerned people, about cancers among a specified group of people, such as in a community or a workplace.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

A highly toxic gas which you cannot see, smell, or taste it. Breathing high levels of carbon monoxide can cause sudden illness or death.

Case Definition

A set of uniformly applied criteria for determining whether a person should be identified as having a particular disease, injury, or other health condition. In epidemiology, particularly for an outbreak investigation, a case definition specifies clinical criteria and details of time, place, and person.

Cause of Disease

A factor (e.g., characteristic, behavior, or event) that directly influences the occurrence of a disease. Reducing such a factor among a population should reduce occurrence of the disease.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The enumeration of an entire population, usually including details on residence, age, sex, occupation, racial/ethnic group, marital status, birth history, and relationship to the head of household.

Census Block

The smallest geographic entity for which the U.S. Census Bureau tabulates decennial census data. Many blocks correspond to city blocks bounded by streets, but blocks in rural areas may include several square miles and have some boundaries that are not streets.

Census Block Group

A unit of U.S. census geography that is a combination of census blocks. There are about 700 residents per block group. A block group is a subdivision of a census tract.

Census Tract

A census tract is a combination of census block groups small, statistical subdivision of a county that usually includes approximately 4,000 inhabitants, but which may include from 2,500 to 8,000 inhabitants. A census tract is designed to encompass a population with relatively uniform economic status, living conditions, and some demographic characteristics. Tract boundaries normally follow physical features, but may also follow administrative boundaries or other non-physical features.


Descriptive epidemiology of health events by time, place, and person.


Certified Health Education Specialist. A designation signifying an individual has met required academic qualifications, passed a rigorous competency-based examination, and who satisfies the continuing education requirement to maintain the national credential. Competencies include program assessment, planning, evaluation, administration, communication, and advocacy.


The average weather in a place over many years.

Climate Adaptation

Ways individuals, communities, organizations, and natural systems can adjust to sudden. Extreme, and gradual changes in the climate. It involves taking practical actions to manage risks from climate impacts, protect communities and strengthen the resilience of the economy.


An aggregation of cases of a disease, injury, or other health condition (particularly cancer and birth defects) in a circumscribed area during a particular period without regard to whether the number of cases is more than expected (often the expected number is not known).


A well-defined group of persons who have had a common experience or exposure and are then followed up, as in a cohort study or prospective study, to determine the incidence of new diseases or health events.

Community Health

Also called health education, it is the profession the entails planning, developing, implementing, evaluating, and administering community health education programs. The profession entails work in health behavior, community health research, biostatistics, epidemiology, grant writing, health communication and professional development. This field integrates components of multiple theories and models to promote positive changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Community Water System

A type of public water system that supplies water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections and more than 25 people year-round.

Confidence interval

A range of values for a measure (e.g., rate or odds ratio) constructed so that the range has a specified probability (often, but not necessarily, 95%) of including the true value of the measure.


The distortion of the association between an exposure and a health outcome by a third variable that is related to both.


Also called specific conductance the ability of water to conduct an electrical current and can indicate the amount of minerals dissolved in the water.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A serious lung disease that makes it hard to breathe and gets worse over time.


When referring to a rate, an overall or summary rate for a population, without adjustment.

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Data (also, Data Set)

Any collection of related facts arranged in a particular format.


One or more structured sets of persistent data, managed and stored as a unit and generally associated with software to update and query the data. A simple database might be a single file with many records, each of which references the same set of fields. A GIS database includes data about the spatial locations and shapes of geographic features recorded as points, lines, areas, pixels, or grid cells, as well as their attributes.

Data Query

A resource from NM EPHT designed to give users the ability to define their custom query settings from a list of options and the website, produces the data according to the definitions the user selected. This includes a mapping function. Custom queries allow users to work directly with datasets

Data Search and Exploration

A resource from NM EPHT, also called data query, designed to give users the ability to choose from a list of options on the website, produces the data according to the definitions the user selected.


The lower portion of a fraction; used in calculating a ratio, proportion, or rate. For a rate, the denominator is usually the midinterval population.

Descriptive epidemiology

The aspect of epidemiology concerned with organizing and summarizing data regarding the persons affected (e.g., the characteristics of those who became ill), time (e.g., when they become ill), and place (e.g., where they might have been exposed to the cause of illness).


The causes and other factors that influence the occurrence of disease and other health-related events. Epidemiologists assume that illness does not occur randomly in a population but happens only when the right accumulation of risk factors or determinants exists in an individual.

Distribution in epidemiology

The frequency and pattern of health-related characteristics and events in a population. In statistics, the frequency and pattern of the values or categories of a variable.


Association between an exposure and health outcome that varies in a consistently increasing or decreasing fashion as the amount of exposure (dose) increases.

Drinking Water Quality

The condition of the water, including chemical, physical, and biological characteristics, that makes it suitable for drinking and cooking.


An event when there is less rainfall than average over an extended time-period for a region often resulting in a shortage of water needed for: basic needs, drinking, and agriculture, and to sustain the current environment. It impacts wildlands such as forests and grasslands and aquifers (groundwater) and surface water sources.

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The result of a cause.


The ability of an intervention or program to produce the intended or expected results in the field.


The ability of an intervention or program to produce the intended or expected results under ideal conditions.


Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau, a bureau within the NM Department of Health and the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Grantee.

Environmental Factor

An extrinsic factor (e.g., geology, climate, insects, sanitation, or health services) that affects an agent and the opportunity for exposure.

Environmental Health

Also called Environmental Public Health, the branch of public health concerned with monitoring or mitigating those factors in the environment that affect human health and disease.

Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau

Bureau within the NM Department of Health in the Epidemiology and Response Division and the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Grantee.

Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice refers to the fair treatment and meaningful opportunities for involvement of all New Mexicans regarding the development and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT)

The Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), brings together health data and environment data from national, state, and city sources and provides supporting information to make the data easier to understand. The Tracking Network has data and information on environments and hazards, health effects, and population health.


The occurrence of more cases of disease, injury, or other health condition than expected in a given area or among a specific group of persons during a particular period. Usually, the cases are presumed to have a common cause or to be related to one another in some way.

Epidemic Curve

A histogram that displays the course of an outbreak or epidemic by plotting the number of cases according to time of onset


The study (scientific, systematic, data-driven) of the distribution (frequency, pattern) and determinants (causes, risk factors) of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations (patient is community, individuals viewed collectively), and the application of (since epidemiology is a discipline within public health) this study to the control of health problems.

Epidemiology and Response Division

Division within the NM Department of Health that leads epidemiologic surveillance, investigations, and responses.

Epidemiology, Field

Applied epidemiology (i.e., the application or practice of epidemiology to control and prevent health problems), particularly when the epidemiologist(s) must travel to and work in the community in which the health problem is occurring or has occurred.


Epidemiology and Response Division.

Evaluation, Program

The profession that oversees the process of examining a program's effectiveness at meeting the program's objectives and performance measures. It involves collecting and analyzing information about a program's activities, characteristics, and outcomes. The purpose of evaluation is to inform program leaders so they may sustain or improve program effectiveness and/or make programming decisions.


Coming in contact with a cause of, or possessing a characteristic that is a determinant of, a particular health problem.

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An overflow of water that submerges usually dry land. Floods are an area of study in the discipline of hydrology. They are the most common and widespread natural severe weather event.


Naturally occurring minerals known for preventing tooth cavities. A common way for people to get fluoride is through drinking water. It is often added to drinking water by community water systems when concentrations are very low. Private well owners need to test their water to know the concentrations.


The amount or number of occurrences of an attribute or health outcome among a population. Frequency refers not only to the number of health events such as the number of cases of meningitis or diabetes in a population, but also to the relationship of that number to the size of the population. The resulting rate allows epidemiologists to compare disease occurrence across different populations.

Frequency Distribution

A complete summary of the frequencies of the values or categories of a variable often displayed in a two-column table with the individual values or categories in the left column and the number of observations in each category in the right column.


A prediction or estimate of future events and trends.

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Portable generators are internal combustion engines used to generate electricity. People use generators when electricity is not available, such as during power outages or when camping. Generators are also used for temporary or remote power during recovery efforts after a disaster. Preventing carbon monoxide exposure is a safety measure that must be taken when using generators.


A code that represents a geographic entity (location or object). It is a unique identifier of the entity, to distinguish it from others in a finite set of geographic entities.

Geographic Information System, GIS

An integrated collection of computer software and data used to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze spatial relationships, and model spatial processes. A GIS provides a framework for gathering and organizing spatial data and related information so it can be displayed and analyzed, often in map form.


A visual display of quantitative data arranged on a system of coordinates.

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A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or other infirmity.

Health Communication

The profession which includes verbal and written strategies to influence and empower individuals, populations, and communities to make healthier choices. Health communication often integrates components of multiple theories and models to promote positive changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Health Education

The profession of educating people about health. It entails any combination of learning experiences designed to help individuals and communities improve their health, by increasing their knowledge or influencing their attitudes. Professionals in the health education discipline plan, develop, implement, evaluate, and administer community health education programs. This field integrates components of multiple theories and models to promote positive changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Health Equity

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. To achieve this, we must remove obstacles to health -- such as poverty, discrimination, and deep power imbalances -- and their consequences, including lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments and health care.

Health Indicator

Any of a variety of measures (e.g., mortality rate) that indicate the state of health of a given population.

Health Information System

A combination of health statistics from different sources. Data from these systems are used to learn about health status, health care, provision and use of services, and the impact of services and programs on health.

Health Promotion

The profession entailing the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health. It covers a wide range of social and environmental interventions that are designed to benefit and protect individual people's health and quality of life by addressing and preventing the root causes and not just focusing on treatment and cure.

Heart Attack

Medically called acute myocardial infarction, a heart attack is a life-threatening condition that occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is abruptly cut off, causing tissue damage.

Heat-related illness

Types of Illness that when temperatures and humidity are high. The main types of illness include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash.

Heat stress

A heat-related illness which can have many symptoms. This includes adverse health conditions such as heat exhaustion which can lead to heat stroke.

Heat stroke

A heat-related illness that happens when the body loses its ability to sweat.

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Indicator Based Information System. Web-based platform used by


A measure of the frequency with which new cases of illness, injury, or other health condition occurs among a population during a specified period.

Incidence Rate

The number of new cases of disease over a period of time divided by the population at risk. An example is the number of new bladder cancer cases per 100,000 persons.

Incidence Proportion

The fraction of persons with new cases of illness, injury, or other health condition during a specified period, calculated as the number of new cases divided by the size of the population at the start of the study period (see also attack rate).

Incidence Rate

A measure of the frequency with which new cases of illness, injury, or other health condition occur, expressed explicitly per a time frame. Incidence rate is calculated as the number of new cases over a specified period divided either by the average population (usually mid-period) or by the cumulative person-time the population was at risk.


For Tracking, an indicator is one or more items, characteristics or other things that will be assessed and that provide information about a population's health status, their environment, and other factors with the goal allowing us to monitor trends, compare situations, and better understand the link between environment and health. It is assessed through direct and indirect measures (e.g., levels of a pollutant in the environment as a measure of possible exposure) that describe health or a factor associated with health (i.e., environmental hazard, age) in a specified population. A content area may have more than one indicator.

Indicator Report

Indicator reports are designed to answer the question "How are we doing?" for a selected health outcome or environmental exposure. These provide a snapshot and are often a starting point for many who are beginning to get acquainted with the environmental health subject. You can access indicator reports by going to the Indicator Report Index under the "Data Portal" tab.


Deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning.

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Journal Article

A journal is a publication, print or online, with a collection of articles. Journal articles are peer-reviewed before publication and present recent research, findings, or perspectives in the form of that further our understanding about a topic

Juniper Tree Pollen

Very fine particles from evergreen juniper trees(common in New Mexico) and distributed in the air during key pollination periods January-April.

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Kilometer, km

One thousand meters.

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Latency Period

The time from exposure to a causal agent to onset of symptoms of a (usually noninfectious) disease (see also incubation period).


Environmental lead is a common toxic metal in our environment that can become a health hazard once it enters the body.

Life Expectancy

A statistical projection of the average number of years a person of a given age is expected to live, if current mortality rates continue to apply.

Logic Model

An approach used by health education and health promotion professionals that is a graphic depiction (road map) that presents the shared relationships among the resources, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impact for health programs. It depicts the relationship between program's activities and its intended effects. It is applied toward program planning and is useful in program evaluation for identifying performance measures and markers of success.

Low-Birth Weight

When the first weight of the newborn obtained after birth is less than 5.5 lbs. (2500 grams) at birth.

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m, meter(s)

Unit of length in the International System of Units, equal to 39.37 inches.


1) A graphic representation of the spatial relationships of entities within an area. 2) Any graphical representation of geographic or spatial information. 3) The document used to display and work with geographic data. A map contains one or more layers of geographic data and various supporting map elements, such as a scale bar.

Map Area

A shaded, choropleth. A visual display of the geographic pattern of a health problem, in which a marker is placed on a map to indicate where each affected person lives, works, or might have been exposed.

mcg, ug, Ig

microgram(s); one one-millionth of a gram.


Commonly called the average; it is the most common measure of central tendency.


On the Tracking Network, a measure is a summary characteristic or statistic, such as a sum, percentage, or rate. There may be several measures of a specific indicator which when considered in conjunction fully describe the indicator. In addition to numbers or percentages, a measure can be a ratio, proportion, or rate.


An observed numerical value that is an appraisal of size, extent, or amount according to a set of criteria.


The measure of central location that divides a set of data into two equal parts, above and below which lie an equal number of values.


A naturally occurring metal that exists in several forms. The types people are usually exposed to are methylmercury and elemental mercury. Elemental mercury at room temperature is a shiny, silver-white liquid, which can produce a harmful odorless vapor. Ethylmercury, an organic compound, can build up in the bodies of long-living, predatory fish.


Information that describes the content, quality, condition, origin, and other characteristics of data or other pieces of information such as how, when, where, and by whom the data were collected; availability and distribution information; its projection, scale, resolution, and accuracy; and its reliability with regard to some standard. Metadata consists of properties and documentation. Properties are derived from the data source while documentation is entered by a person (for example, keywords used to describe the data). Metadata are data about NM EPHT-acquired data and datasets. Once obtained, NM EPHT datasets are critically examined to fully characterize and describe the data elements, including the content, quality, and geographic and temporal extent. Exploring metadata is a way to discover data and learn about the NM EPHT datasets, specifically.


The most frequently occurring value in a set of observations.


A representation, often mathematical, of trends, incidents, or systems.


Disease; any departure, subjective or objective, from a state of physiological or psychological health and well-being.



Mortality Rate

A measure of the frequency of occurrence of death among a defined population during a specified time interval.

Mortality Rate, Age Adjusted

A mortality rate that has been statistically modified to eliminate the effect of different age distributions among different populations.

Mortality Rate, Age Specific.

A mortality rate limited to a particular age group, calculated as the number of deaths among the age group divided by the number of persons in that age group, usually expressed per 100,000.

Mortality rate, cause specific

The mortality rate from a specified cause, calculated as the number of deaths attributed to a specific cause during a specified time interval among a population divided by the size of the midinterval population.

Mortality Rate, Crude

A mortality rate from all causes of death for an entire population, without adjustment.

Mortality Rate, Infant.

The mortality rate for children aged less than 1 year, calculated as the number of deaths reported among this age group during a given period divided by the number of live births reported during the same period, and expressed per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality rate is a universally accepted indicator of the health of a nation's population and the adequacy of its health-care system.

Mortality Rate, Race/Ethnic-Specific

A mortality rate limited to a specified racial or ethnic group both numerator and denominator are limited to that group.

Mortality Rate, Sex Specific

A mortality rate among either males or females.

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National Consistent Data Measure (NCDM)

Data that is collected and analyzed in a way that is constituent between states which enables data comparison between states in the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.

New Mexico

New Mexico is a state in the United States in the southwestern region of the country. New Mexico is the fifth-largest state and has a centralized health department which is operated by the State of New Mexico government.

New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH or NM DOH)

The State of New Mexico's centralized health department.


A compound that forms naturally when nitrogen combines with oxygen or ozone.


New Mexico.


New Mexico Department of Health which is the state's centralized health department operated by the State of New Mexico government.


Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau, a bureau within the NM Department of Health and the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Grantee.


New Mexico Environment Department. NM EPHT works closely with NMED. Common bureaus we work with include Air Quality Bureau (NMED AQB) and Drinking Water Bureau (NMED DWB).

Nominal Data

Data divided into classes within which all elements are assumed to be equal to each other, and in which no class comes before another in sequence or importance; for example, a group of polygons colored to represent different soil types.

Normal Curve

The bell-shaped curve that results when a normal distribution is graphed.

Normal Distribution

A distribution represented as a bell shape, symmetrical on both sides of the peak, which is simultaneously the mean, median, and mode, and with both tails extending to infinity.

Notifiable Condition

A condition or lab result that by law, must be reported to New Mexico Department of Health.


The upper portion of a fraction.

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Odds Ratio

A measure of association used in comparative studies, particularly case-control studies, that quantifies the association between an exposure and a health outcome; also called the cross-product ratio.

Ordinal Data

Ordinal data is a categorical, statistical data type where the variables have natural, ordered categories and the distances between the categories is not known. Data classified by comparative value; for example, a group of polygons colored lighter to darker to represent less to more densely populated areas.


The occurrence of more cases of disease, injury, or other health condition than expected in a given area or among a specific group of persons during a specific period. Usually, the cases are presumed to have a common cause or to be related to one another in some way. Sometimes distinguished from an epidemic as more localized.


Any or all of the possible results that can stem from exposure to a causal factor or from preventive or therapeutic interventions; all identified changes in health status that result from the handling of a health problem.


A value substantively or statistically different from all (or approximately all) of the other values in a distribution.

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Particulate Matter (PM)

Particles suspended in breathing-level air. (Text for PM, PM2.5, and PM10 is from the AIRNow Web site at Particle pollution, also known as particulate matter, in the air includes a mixture of solids and liquid droplets. Some particles are emitted directly; others are formed in the atmosphere when other pollutants react. Particles come in a wide range of sizes. Those less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) are so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. Ten micrometers are smaller than the width of a single human hair. Particle exposure can lead to a variety of health effects.


Refers to the occurrence of health-related events by time, place, and person. Time patterns may be annual, seasonal, weekly, daily, hourly, weekday versus weekend, or any other breakdown of time that may influence disease or injury occurrence. Place patterns include geographic variation, urban/rural differences, and location of work sites or schools. Personal characteristics include demographic factors which may be related to risk of illness, injury, or disability such as age, sex, marital status, and socioeconomic status, as well as behaviors and environmental exposures.


An epidemic occurring over a widespread area (multiple countries or continents) and usually affecting a substantial proportion of the population.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

A group of man-made chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), with high thermal and chemical stability, long-distance transportation ability, and potential for accumulation in the food chain and human body.


A set of cut points used to divide a distribution or a set of ranked data into 100 parts of equal area with each interval between the points containing 1/100 or 1% of the observations. For example, the 5th percentile is a cut point with 5% of the observations below it and the remaining 95% above it.


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

pH (Water)

The pH of water indicates if it is acidic, basic, or neutral on a scale of 0-14. A value below 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic.


Public Health Applications in Remote Sensing. links to the project Web site.


Fine particles are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These particles are so small they can be detected only with an electron microscope. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes.


Coarse dust particles are particles between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in diameter. Sources of coarse particles include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles traveling on roads.


A geometric element defined by a pair of x,y coordinates. (ESRI) A point represents a feature's location but not its shape or how much area it covers. Examples of points on a map are individual buildings, monitoring stations, and towers.


An agent that is capable of causing harm to a living organism. Almost any substance can act as a poison, if a sufficiently large dose is absorbed into the body.


An important public health problem, it is when people are injured or die as a result of exposure to industrial and natural poisons.


The total number of inhabitants of a geographic area or the total number of persons in a group (e.g., the number of persons engaged in a certain occupation).


On a map, a closed shape defined by a connected sequence of x,y coordinate pairs, where the first and last coordinate pair are the same and all other pairs are unique. (ESRI) Examples of polygons are rectangles, circles, ovals, the areas enclosed by the City Limits layer, the areas that represent classes or types of vegetation in the Vegetation layer, etc.

Premature (preterm) birth

The annual percentage of live singleton births that occur at less than 37 completed weeks of gestation.


The number or proportion of cases or events or attributes among a given population.

Prevalence Rate

The proportion of a population that has a particular disease, injury, other health condition, or attribute at a specified point in time (point prevalence) or during a specified period (period prevalence).

Prevalence Period

The amount of a disease, chronic condition, or type of injury present among a population at any time during a period. The number of existing cases of disease at a point in time divided by the total population. An example is the number of existing cases of a birth defect per 10,000 live births.

Prevalence Point

The amount of a disease, chronic condition, or type of injury present among a population at a single point in time.

Private Well

A way of accessing groundwater for households not on a community water system. It is often the only means of accessing drinking such as in areas where there is no access to a municipal water system. To create a private well, a hole is drilled into the ground down to the aquifer-a permeable layer of rock that contains water. A pump system is then used to carry that water up and into a home.


A type of ratio which is the number of events or cases that meet a set of criteria divided by the maximum number of events or cases that could meet those criteria. In this case, the numerator is included in the denominator. Proportions are usually expressed as percentages. An example is the number of low-birth-weight births among all term singleton births.

Public Health

The science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities.


The probability of observing an association between two variables or a difference between two or more groups as large or larger than that observed, if the null hypothesis were true. Used in statistical testing to evaluate the plausibility of the null hypothesis (i.e., whether the observed association or difference plausibly might have occurred by chance).

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A request to select features or records from a database. In the NM EPHT Interactive Data Query, the query statements or expressions are programmed into the application.

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Racism is the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another.


A naturally occurring radioactive gas released from rock, soil, and water. It can build up to dangerous levels inside any home. Since radon gas is odorless and invisible, the only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test for it.


The relative size of two quantities, calculated by dividing one quantity by the other. The number of events or cases that meet a set of criteria divided by the number of events or cases that meet a different set of criteria. Ratios are used to compare the occurrence of a variable in two different groups. An example is the ratio of males to females among term singleton births.


A record represents data related to a single case or a set of related data fields, often a row in a database, containing all the attribute values for a single feature.

Relative Risk

A general term for measures of association calculated from the data in a two-by-two table, including risk ratio, rate ratio, and odds ratio.


The detail with which a map depicts the location and shape of geographic features. The larger the map scale, the higher the possible resolution. As scale decreases, resolution diminishes. For example, small areas in maps may have to be represented as points.


A step in the public health process, often part of the epidemiology component, that entails the public health and epidemiological actions during the first 24 hours of an acute situation, ranging from exposures, emergencies and disasters and the following long-term activities such as those done during epidemics and pandemics.


The probability that an event will occur (e.g., that a person will be affected by, or die from, an illness, injury, or other health condition within a specified time or age span).

Risk Factor

An aspect of personal behavior or lifestyle, an environmental exposure, or a hereditary characteristic that is associated with an increase in the occurrence of a disease, injury, or other health condition.

Risk Ratio

A measure of association that quantifies the association between an exposure and a health outcome from an epidemiologic study, calculated as the ratio of incidence proportions of two groups.

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Safe Drinking Water Act, SDWA

U.S. EPA Safe Drinking Water Act.

Safe Drinking Water Information System, SDWIS

U.S. EPA Safe Drinking Water Information System.


A selected subset of a population a sample can be random or nonrandom and representative or nonrepresentative.

Sample, Random

A sample of persons chosen in such a way that each one has the same (and known) probability of being selected.

Sample, Representative

A sample whose characteristics correspond to those of the original or reference population.

Scale, Interval

A measurement scale consisting of quantitative categories whose values are measured on a scale of equally spaced units, but without a true zero point (e.g., date of birth).

Scale, Nominal

A measurement scale consisting of qualitative categories whose values have no inherent statistical order or rank (e.g., categories of race/ethnicity, religion, or country of birth).

Scale, Ordinal

A measurement scale consisting of qualitative categories whose values have a distinct order but no numerical distance between their possible values (e.g., stage of cancer, I, II, III, or IV).

Scale, Ratio

A measurement scale consisting of quantitative categories whose values are intervals with a true zero point (e.g., height in centimeters or duration of illness).


Change in physiologic status or in the occurrence of a disease, chronic condition, or type of injury that conforms to a regular seasonal pattern.


A vector data storage format for storing the location, shape, and attributes of geographic features. A shapefile is stored in a set of related files and contains one feature class.


A distribution that is not symmetrical.


Smoke is a complex mixture of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, and metals. This mixture can irritate and even injure the mouth, nose, throat, and lung tissue.

Social Determinants of Health

Social determinants of health refer to the undelying community-wide social, economic, and physical conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. They affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. These determinants and their unequal distribution according to social position result in differences in health status between population groups that are avoidable and unfair.

Spatial Data

1) Information about the locations and shapes of geographic features and the relationships between them, usually stored as coordinates and topology. 2) Any data that can be mapped. Scale


The ability or a test, case definition, or surveillance system to exclude persons without the health condition of interest; the proportion of persons without a health condition that are correctly identified as such by a screening test, case definition, or surveillance system.


An event that occurs infrequently and irregularly.

Standard Deviation

A statistical summary of how dispersed the values of a variable are around its mean, calculated as the square root of the variance.

Static Data and Maps

Resources from NM EPHT that provide data visualization for selected health outcome or environmental exposure in the forms of maps, charts, graphs, infographics, and table formats.

Statistical Inference

Generalizations developed from sample data, usually with calculated degrees of uncertainty.

Statistical Significance

The measure of how likely it is that a set of study results could have occurred by chance alone. Statistical significance is based on an estimate of the probability of the observed or a greater degree of association between independent and dependent variables occurring under the null hypothesis (see also P value).


  • Cohort: An observational analytic study in which enrollment is based on status of exposure to a certain factor or membership in a certain group. Populations are followed, and disease, death, or other health-related outcomes are documented and compared. Cohort studies can be either prospective or retrospective.
  • Cross-Sectional: A study in which a sample of persons from a population are enrolled and their exposures and health outcomes are measured simultaneously; a survey.
  • Experimental: A study in which the investigator specifies the type of exposure for each person (clinical trial) or community (community trial) then follows the persons' or communities' health status to determine the effects of the exposure.
  • Observational: A study in which the investigator observes rather than influences exposure and disease among participants. Case-control and cohort studies are observational studies (see also study, experimental).


A geographic phenomenon represented as a set of continuous data (such as elevation, geological boundaries, or air pollution); a spatial distribution which associates a single value with each position in a plane, usually associated with continuous attributes.


Public health surveillance is the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health-related data essential to planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practice.

  • Active: Public health surveillance in which the health agency solicits reports.
  • Medical: Monitoring of a person who might have been exposed to an infectious, chemical, radiologic, or other potentially causal agent, for the purpose of detecting early symptoms.
  • Passive: Public health surveillance in which data are sent to the health agency without prompting.
  • Syndromic: 1) The monitoring of the frequency of illnesses with a specified set of clinical features among a given population without regard to the specific diagnoses, if any, that are assigned to them by clinicians. (2) A system for early detection of outbreaks whereby health department staff, assisted by automated acquisition of data routinely collected for other purposes and computer generation of statistical signals, monitor disease indicators, particularly those associated with possible terrorism-related biologic and chemical agents, continually or at least daily to detect outbreaks earlier than would otherwise be possible with traditional public health methods.


A systematic canvassing of persons to collect information, often from a representative sample of the population.

Survival Curve

A line graph that begins with 100% of the study population and displays the percentage of the population still surviving at successive points in time. A survival curve can also be used to depict freedom from a health problem, complication, or another endpoint.


A type of distribution where the shapes to the right and left of the central location are the same. Normal, bell-shaped distributions are symmetrical; the mean, median, and mode are the same.


Any indication of disease noticed or felt by a patient.


A combination of symptoms characteristic of a disease or health condition; sometimes refers to a health condition without a clear cause (e.g., chronic fatigue syndrome).

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A set of data elements arranged in rows and columns. Each row represents a single record. Each column represents a field of the record. Rows and columns intersect to form cells, which contain a specific value for one field in a record.

Tabular Data

Descriptive information, usually alphanumeric, that is stored in rows and columns in a database and can be linked to spatial data.

Temporal Data

Data that specifically refer to times or dates. Temporal data may refer to discrete events, such as dust storms or lightning strikes; moving objects, such as trains; or repeated observations, such as counts from traffic sensors.


An area of land having a particular characteristic, such as sandy terrain or mountainous terrain.

Thematic Map

A map designed to convey information about a single topic or theme, such as population density or geology.


The study and mapping of land surfaces, including relief (relative positions and elevations) and the position of natural and constructed features.


In geodatabases, the arrangement that constrains how point, line, and polygon features share geometry.


Transfer of an agent.
  • Airborne: Transfer of an agent suspended in the air, considered a type of indirect transmission.
  • Biologic: Indirect transmission by a vector in which the infectious agent undergoes biologic changes inside the vector as part of its life cycle before it is transmitted to the host.
  • Direct: Immediate transfer of an agent from a reservoir to a host by direct contact or droplet spread.
  • Indirect: Transfer of an agent from a reservoir to a host either by being suspended in air particles (airborne), carried by an inanimate objects (vehicleborne), or carried by an animate intermediary (vectorborne).
  • Vector Borne: Transmission of an agent by a living intermediary (e.g., tick, mosquito, or flea); considered a type of indirect transmission.
  • Vehicle Borne: transmission of an agent by an inanimate object; considered a type of indirect transmission; includes foodborne and waterborne transmission.


Movement or change in frequency over time, usually upwards or downwards.

Tribal Sovereignty

Tribal sovereignty ensures that New Mexico's 23 Tribes, Pueblos, and Nations enjoy a significant degree of independence and self-determination in their decision-making an governance over: their own laws and policies; interaction with federal, state, and local government; engagement in business, commercial, and governmental activities; and administering a wide range of public services - law enforcement, housing, social services, elder care, environmental protection, and health and safety programs. Tribal sovereignty also helps to preserve and protect their unique cultural heritage.

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ug, Ig

microgram(s); one one-millionth of a gram.


University of New Mexico


A weakly radioactive heavy metal that occurs naturally. Rocks, soil, surface and ground water, air, plants, and animals (including humans) all contain varying amounts of uranium.


United States Geological Survey.

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1) The degree to which a measurement, questionnaire, test, or study or any other data-collection tool measures what it is intended to measure. 2) Any characteristic or attribute that can be measured and can have different values.


A measure of the spread in a set of observations, calculated as the sum of the squares of deviations from the mean, divided by the number of observations minus 1.


A living intermediary that carries an agent from a reservoir to a susceptible host (e.g., mosquitoes, fleas, or ticks).

Vector (mapping and design)

A coordinate-based data model that represents geographic features as points, lines, and polygons. Each point feature is represented as a single coordinate pair, while line and polygon features are represented as ordered lists of vertices. Attributes are associated with each vector feature, as opposed to a raster data model, which associates attributes with grid cells.

Vital Statistics

Systematically tabulated data about recorded births, marriages, divorces, and deaths.

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An inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known living organisms. Water is indeed essential for all life on Earth.

Water Quality

Water quality describes the condition of the water, including chemical, physical, and biological characteristics, often referring to the suitability for human consumption such as for drinking and cooking, but it can also refer to the suitability for other purposes such as bathing, cleaning, and swimming.


The mix of events that happens each day in our atmosphere such as temperature, cloudiness, humidity, and storms.

Wildland Fire

Any nonstructure fire, other than prescribed fire, that occurs in the wildland.

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The horizontal axis of a rectangular graph, usually displaying the independent variable (e.g., time).

X,Y Coordinates

A pair of values that represents the distance from an origin (0,0) along two axes, a horizontal axis (x), and a vertical axis (y). On a map, x,y coordinates are used to represent features at the location they are found on the Earth's spherical surface.

X,Y,Z Coordinates

In a planar coordinate system, three coordinates that locate a point by its distance from an origin (0,0,0) where three orthogonal axes cross. Usually, the x-coordinate is measured along the east-west axis, the y-coordinate is measured along the north-south axis, and the z-coordinate measures height or elevation.

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The vertical axis of a rectangular graph, usually displaying the dependent variable (e.g., frequency - number, proportion, or rate).

Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL)

A measure of the impact of premature death on a population, calculated as the sum of the differences between a predetermined minimally acceptable age (e.g., 65 years or current life expectancy) and the age at death for everyone who died earlier than that age.

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Zia Sun Symbol

A symbol from the Zia Pueblo in New Mexico used in the center of New Mexico state flag. The Zia Pueblo symbol represents the four winds, the four seasons, the four directions, and the four sacred obligations. Use of the symbol should be done respectively and appropriately.


An infectious disease that is transmissible from animals to humans.