Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

Other impact assessments

Some impact assessments are closely related to HIA, these are briefly explained below:

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

The word strategic is used to describe this type of environmental assessment because SEA is undertaken much earlier in the decision-making process of proposals (unlike EIA), allowing more time for environmental and health issues to be considered. SEA places special emphasis on human health, opening up the possibility for health to be thoroughly considered within environmental assessments.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been undertaken for over 30 years in the USA and elsewhere. Similar to HIA, EIA explores the effect of policies, programmes and projects on the environment. There is now a statutory requirement for EIA to be undertaken in many countries in the world. EIA should lead to proposals which are likely to have significant adverse effects on the environment being abandoned or modified. However, EIA does not typically include an assessment of the health effects of proposals, and when it does it is often narrowly focused and solely quantitative in nature (often then described as EHIA, see next section).

Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA)

The EHIA is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with a health component included in the appraisal process. EIA has a defined methodology of its own, where health is often absent. EHIA goes against this trend by including health, but only as one component in the assessment, so the analysis of health issues is not as focused as with HIA. Often, health assessment in EHIA includes health issues that can be measured – such as chemical and pollution exposure – while focusing less on qualitative information such as community perceptions of health issues.

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