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Curtin University
WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Impact Assessment

About EHIA/HIA

Environmental Health Impact Assessment / Health Impact Assessment

image of people after floods

The concept of EHIA/HIA is not entirely new, however the incorporation of government initiated frameworks and policies before, during and after industry development has been a recent addition to environmental regulation in many countries providing the various observations provided below.

"Environmental Health Impact Assessment is a relatively recent process which seeks to predict the impact of a development before the development proposal has been approved, so that negative impacts can be reduced or avoided, positive impacts can be enhanced and the probability of sustainable development increased. It is a key component of informed decision making."

enHealth Council, 2000 (Health Impact Assessment Guidelines 2001)

"Health Impact Assessment is a combination of procedures methods and tools by which a policy, program or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of the population and the distribution of those effects within the population."

Gotheburg Consensus Paper, 1999

"The health of the population is determined by many factors including genes, age, a person's social and economic circumstances, lifestyle and access to services, as well as environmental health factors such as air, water quality, housing, etc. HIA seeks to ensure both the positive and negative aspects on health are effectively considered during impact assessment"

enHealth Council, 2000 (Health Impact Assessment Guidelines 2001)

The Determinants of Health

Determinants of Health and Wellbeing

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Source: Vohra S. Centre for Health Impact Assessment, IOM. Adapted from Harris A. Rapid Health Impact Assessment: a guide to research. 2003: cited in ICMM Good Practice Guidance on Health Impact Assessment

The factors that can affect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities are the Determinants of Health. These determinants include the social, economic and physical environment, as well as individual behaviours and characteristics.

Environmental Health

“Environmental health involves those aspects of public health concerned with the factors, circumstances, and conditions in the environment or surroundings of humans that can exert an influence on health and well-being.”

Australian Government, Department of Health and Aging

“Environmental health addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviours. It encompasses the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health. It is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. This definition excludes behaviour not related to environment, as well as behaviour related to the social and cultural environment, and genetics.”

World Health Organisation

Sustainable Development

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development 1987 (Bruntland Report)

We consider EHIA/HIA to be a process which combines both Environmental Impact Assessment and Health Impact Assessment when evaluating the impacts of a development, policy or plan on the environment and on health. It is necessary to have depth in both assessment aspects providing qualitative and quantitative evaluation processes for long-term, sustainable benefits. EHIA/HIA applies to new projects, plans and policies and can be applied to those already ongoing (retrospective).