Tools For Measuring Health Impacts Being Prescribed More Often

Eric Jaffe reports on the growing use of "health impact assessments" (HIA), which are used in a similar fashion to environmental reviews, to determine the public health side effects of major projects.

Already in frequent use in Europe and Canada, "[a]n HIA, like an environmental review, evaluates the potential effects a major planning project might have on the public health of a surrounding community, and recommends certain actions needed to mitigate - or, in the case of health benefits, accelerate - those impacts," writes Jaffe.

As the effects of land use on public health become more prominent in the minds of planners, citizens, and officials, HIAs are a valuable tool in elucidating the direct connection between planning and design decisions and health outcomes. As an example, Jaffe explores the HIA completed for Atlanta's BeltLine project, which seeks to transform 22 miles of abandoned railroad near downtown Atlanta into parks, trails, transit, and development.

"Conducting the HIA required an interdisciplinary team of health professionals and planners to examine the BeltLine plans, compile all sorts of data on the community in the project's impact area, and compare these findings with existing public health literature. The HIA focused on several broad categories of health, from physical activity to access and equity to safety, and its 72 recommendations range from the broad and basic (Atlanta should speed up the BeltLine timeline) to the painfully specific (residential units should be at least 600 feet from high-volume roads to reduce impact of particulate matter)."

Full Story: How to Measure a Project's Health


Brand new! Urban Grid City Collection

Each city has its own unique story. Commemorate where you came from or where you want to go.
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.

Build Your Own Paper Block City

Urban Fold is an all-inclusive kit that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.