Establishing Public Health As An Integral Part of Decision-Making

Ben Goldman looks at the findings in a new paper released by the Pew Health Group and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that aims to identify opportunities to increase the utilization of Health Impact Assessments (HIA).

Prepared by the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, the report compiles reviews of laws in 36 jurisdictions in the United States regulating environment and energy, transportation, agriculture, and waste disposal and recycling for opportunities to implement HIAs, which are a key tool in assessing the public health impacts of proposed projects.

As Goldman notes, "In some places, the report found, HIAs are already required in non-health policy sectors, while in others they are actually prohibited by law (though never for transportation). Most jurisdictions fall somewhere in between, with HIAs allowed but not mandated."

A press release accompanying the report announces that, "The first comprehensive study of its kind found an unexpectedly large number of laws that facilitate the consideration of health effects, in fields such as transportation, energy, and agriculture. Many of these legal requirements may be satisfied by conducting health impact assessments (HIAs), a type of study that helps decision makers identify and address the potential and often unrecognized health risks and benefits of their decisions."

Full Story: How Local Transportation Decisions Can Put Public Health Front and Center

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