27 January 2015

UK Committee calls for halt on fracking in the UK

The Environmental Audit Committee of the UK Parliament published a report today in which it called for a moratorium on fracking until the climate and environmental health impacts had been investigated further.
The report is a summary of the statements made, and responses to questions, by a range of stakeholders and the conclusions that the Committee reached on the basis of those statements and answers. It is a useful summary of the key issues in relation to the environmental and  health impacts and what key stakeholders considered the risks and dangers are; or are not. It is not a scientific review of the evidence.
The committee re-affirms the importance of key mitigation measures that have been identified in a number of other fracking reports and papers. Two key ones are monitoring health impacts across the lifecycle including post closure and being open about the chemicals used.
Despite the assurances from some that environmental risks can be safely accommodated by  existing regulatory systems, an extensive range of uncertainties remains over particular  hazards — to groundwater quality and water supplies,  from waste an d air emissions , to our  health and  to  biodiversity,  to the  geological integrity of the areas involved, and  from  noise  and disruption.  Uncertainty about their significance is in part a reflection of the fact that fracking operations have yet to move beyond the exploratory stage in the UK. It is imperative that the environment is protected from potentially irreversible damage.
Fracking must be prohibited outright in protected and nationally important areas.
Full containment of methane must be mandated.
Fracking should be prohibited in all  water source protection zones.

12 January 2015

UQ - Mining and resettlement research initiative

Mining for the Common Good

As a multi-party, industry-University research collaboration on mining and resettlement, ComRel will build knowledge for practical application. This initiative is the first of its kind.

The aim is to:

  •  improve understanding of how mining and resettlement risks are being managed by the industry.
  • identify strategies for improving outcomes for people affected by mining and resettlement.
  • conduct applied research that informs future policy and practice.
  •  contribute to debates about social due diligence and the development of social safeguards.    
For full article: click here

8 January 2015

Health impact assessment of traffic noise in Madrid, Spain


Environmental Research Volume 137, February 2015, Pages 136–140

Highlights 
  • The results obtained tend to question the WHO health protection threshold values. 
  • This study highlights the importance of traffic noise to the health in large cities. 
  • These results serve to highlight the need to implement noise-abatement measures.

Abstract

The relationship between environmental noise and health has been examined in depth. In view of the sheer number of persons exposed, attention should be focused on road traffic noise.

The city of Madrid (Spain) is a densely populated metropolitan area in which 80% of all environmental noise exposure is attributed to traffic.


The aim of this study was to quantify avoidable deaths resulting from reducing the impact of equivalent diurnal noise levels (LeqD) on daily cardiovascular and respiratory mortality among people aged ≥65 years in Madrid.


A health impact assessment of (average 24 h) LeqD and PM2.5 levels was conducted by using previously reported risk estimates of mortality rates for the period 2003–2005: 


For cardiovascular causes: LeqD 1.048 (1.005, 1.092) and PM2.5 1.041(1.020, 1.062) 


For respiratory causes: LeqD 1.060 (1.000, 1.123) and PM2.5 1.030 (1.000, 1.062).


The association found between LeqD exposure and mortality for both causes suggests an important health effect. A reduction of 1 dB(A) in LeqD implies an avoidable annual mortality of 284 (31, 523) cardiovascular- and 184 (0, 190) respiratory-related deaths in the study population.


The magnitude of the health impact is similar to reducing average PM2.5levels by 10 µg/m3. Regardless of air pollution, exposure to traffic noise should be considered an important environmental factor having a significant impact on health.

Paywall: For full article click here

7 January 2015

Health Impact Assessment Practice and Potential for Integration within Environmental Impact and Strategic Environmental Assessments in Italy


Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11


ABSTRACT Avoiding or minimizing potential environmental impact is the driving idea behind protecting a population’s health via Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs). However, both are often carried out without any systematic approach. This paper describes the findings of a review of HIA, EIA and SEA experiences carried out by the authors, who act as institutional competent subjects at he national and regional levels in Italy. The analysis of how health is tackled in EIA and SEA procedures could support the definition of a protocol for the integration of HIA with EIA and SEA. Although EIA and SEA approaches include the aim of protecting health, significant technical and methodological gaps are present when assessing health systematically, and their basic principles regarding assessment are unsatisfactory for promoting and addressing healthcare concepts stated by the WHO. HIA is still poorly integrated into the decision-making process, screening and monitoring phases are only occasionally implemented, and operational details are not well-defined. The collaborative approach of institutions involved in environment and health is a core element in a systematic advancement toward supporting effective decisions and effective protection of the environment and health. At the Italian national level, the definition of guidelines and tools for HIA, also in relation with EIA and SEA, is of great interest 

OPEN ACCESS

For full article click here 

5 January 2015

European Public Health Conference 2015










The 8th European Health Conference will be held in Milan, Italy, from the 14 to 17 October 2015.

Main theme of the conference is:

Health in Europe - from global to local practices, methods and practices.

For further information click here.

Follow on twitter: @EPHConference

19 December 2014

IAIA December 2014 News


1. IAIA15 updates

IAIA15 will be held 20-23 April 2015 in Florence, Italy. For more information, visit the conference website.  The European Investment Bank is proud to be a Premier Sponsor of IAIA15.

Important Dates:
20 December: Venice technical visit must meet 10 participants to proceed
16 January:  Early bird registration deadline
16 January: Presenting author registration deadline
18 January:  Cutoff date for hotel booking discounts


Early bird & presenting author registration deadline: Early bird rates for IAIA15 run through 16 January, so register soon to take advantage of those discounted rates.  Presenting authors must also register by 16 January in order to be listed on the program.

Overnight technical visit to Venice: IAIA15 will offer a number of exciting technical visits in and around Florence, but it will also offer a post-conference overnight visit to Venice to explore the city and study the MOSE project, a series of mobile gates that protect Venice and the Venetian Lagoon area from flooding and extreme events.  All technical visits are subject to meeting the minimum number of participants, but due to the overnight hotel reservations, this visit in particular must meet a 10 delegate minimum by 20 December in order to proceed.  If you are interested in this visit, please consider registering as soon as possible to reserve your space!  Full visit details are posted on the Technical Visit page.

Hotel bookings:  Delegates are encouraged to make hotel reservations early.  Blocks of rooms with discounted rates have been reserved by the Firenze Convention Bureau; those rates are valid only through 18 January 2015 and must be booked through their official system.  Registration for the event is required to get the access code, which will be provided in the registration confirmation email. For more information, visit Plan Your Stay.

Sponsorship opportunities:  IAIA is currently seeking sponsors for the IAIA15 conference.  Download the Sponsorship Opportunities brochure in English or Italian on the IAIA15 sponsorship site to find out the various ways your company can reach out to over 1000 environmental professionals from 80+ nations.  Book your sponsorship by 1 December and receive one extra FREE registration to IAIA15.



2. Save the date: IAIA16

Mark your calendars for 8-15 May 2016 to attend IAIA’s 36th annual conference!  IAIA16 will be held in Nagoya, Japan, with a theme of “Resilience and Sustainability.”  The first announcement, call for papers, and conference website will be available in the coming months.



3. Updates from IAIA's Spanish Affiliate, AEEIA

Asociación Española de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental (AEEIA), IAIA’s affiliate in Spain, is excited to share their new website at www.eia.es.  Spanish-speaking IAIA members are encouraged to visit the site, as lots of information is available there. 

AEEIA will be holding their next national conference, CONEIA – Congreso Nacional de Evaluacion de Impacto Ambiental, in Madrid from 11-13 March 2015.  For more information, visit www.coneia2015.com.

For more information on all of IAIA’s affiliates, visit https://www.iaia.org/affiliates-branches/affiliates.aspx.



4. IAIA Newsletter and December issue of IAPA (IAIA Members Only)

Have you checked out the IAIA newsletter lately?   Read it online for publication updates, affiliate news, and more.

The latest issue of Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal (Vol 32, Issue 4, December 2014), a special issue on “Social Licence to Operate and IA”, is also available online – IAIA members, login as a member to access the full text articles.  Non-members may view the Table of Contents and abstracts online.  Professional practice papers and book reviews are included in addition to the following articles:
  • Social licence to operate and impact assessment (Bice & Moffat)
  • Frequently asked questions about the social licence to operate (Boutilier)
  • Integrating impact and relational dimensions of social licence and social impact assessment (Parsons & Moffat)
  • Social licence to operate through a gender lens: The challenges of including women's interests in development assistance projects (Jijelava & Vanclay)
  • Does mining company-sponsored community development influence social licence to operate? Evidence from private and state-owned companies in Chile (Martinez & Franks)
  • Māori and mining: Indigenous perspectives on reconceptualising and contextualising the social licence to operate (Ruckstuhl, Thompson-Fawcett & Rae)
  • The civic virtue of developmentalism: on the mining industry's political licence to develop Western Australia (Brueckner, Durey, Pforr & Mayes)







14 November 2014

Health in Impact Assessments: Opportunities not to be missed

"Health in Impact Assessments: Opportunities not to be missed" is a new joint publication from WHO Europe, EUPHA, and IAIA.

Prospective impact assessment is a consolidated approach for pursuing foresight in policy and decision-making, systematically deployed worldwide. There is consensus that, even in well developed impact assessments, human health is not always covered adequately. Partly as a response, health impact assessment (HIA) has emerged and has been applied in several countries in Europe and beyond. Opinions about the merits of HIA separate from other forms of impact assessment differ. This publication aims to provide a detailed and balanced view on "health in impact assessments". Five key types of impact assessment, namely environmental impact assessment, strategic environmental assessment, social impact assessment, sustainability assessment, and HIA are presented, and four key questions are discussed: How can the various assessments contribute to promoting and protecting human health? How can further integration of health support the various forms of impact assessments? What forms of integration seem advisable? What priorities for further development? This analysis suggests that the potential of impact assessments to protect and promote health is underutilized, and represents a missed opportunity. Ways need to be found to exploit the potential to a fuller extent

This publication is available at: http://www.euro.who.int/health-in-IA

16 September 2014

Minimum Elements and Practice Standards for Health Impact Assessment Version 3

From the SOPHIA HIA Practice Standards Working Group:
The HIA Practice Standards Working Group is happy to report that Minimum Elements and Practice Standards for Health Impact Assessment, Version 3 has now been finalized and released. The group establish a structured process through which public comments on Version 2 of the standards could be submitted. We received extensive feedback – 137 individual comments by our count. The comments were thoughtful and insightful. Each comment was considered and, for each, we came to consensus on what changes to the standards to make, if any. Version 3 includes a more detailed description of the purpose and scope of the standards, a very significantly re-worked set of minimum elements, as well as significant changes to the practice standards.
The document can be downloaded here.

23 August 2014

The Impact and Effectiveness of Equity Focused Health Impact Assessment in Health Service Planning


This free ebook looks at the use of equity focused health impact assessment (EFHIA) on health service plans. It examines:
  1. What are the direct and indirect impacts of EFHIAs conducted on health sector plans?
  2. Does EFHIA improve the consideration of equity in the development and implementation of health sector plans?
  3. How does EFHIA improve the consideration of equity in health planning?

Download PDF (3.5 Mb)

For Acrobat and PDF readers

Download EPUB (910Kb)

For iBooks and most e-readers

Download MOBI (1.2Mb)

For Kindles and Kindle apps

Download from Amazon

For Whispernet transfer N.B. Costs US $0.99

About the ebook

This ebook describes the use and evolution of health impact assessment (HIA) and EFHIA internationally and in Australia, how it has been used in relation to health service plans, examines its effectiveness and impacts on decision-making and implementation and examines several EFHIAs using case study and interpretive description methodologies.

This research shows that EFHIA has the potential to have both direct and indirect impacts on health service planning. These impacts are influenced by a broad range of factors however. The case studies in this ebook show that engagement with the EFHIA process and the extent to which EFHIA is regarded as a broader learning process are important factors that mediate the extent to which EFHIAs influence subsequent activities.
This research suggests that it is not possible to adequately describe the full range of impacts of EFHIA on decision-making and implementation without looking at perceptions about EFHIA’s effectiveness, in particular the perceptions of those involved in the EFHIA and those responsible for acting on its recommendations. These perceptions change over time, suggesting that future research on the effectiveness of HIA should look at the mechanisms by which this change occurs.

The ebook makes two theoretical contributions in the form of (i) a typology for HIAs and (ii) a conceptual framework for evaluating the impact and effectiveness of HIAs. This conceptual framework is tested for its applicability and refined.

The ebook and the accompanying publications were written to fulfil the requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health at the University of New South Wales.

13 August 2014

The Lessons and Benefits of Health Equity Impact Assessment

Erika Espinoza, is the Knowledge Exchange Lead for the North Region of Ontario within CAMH's Provincial Systems Support Team. The interview was recorded as part of the Health Equity Impact Assessment (HEIA) Tool Community of Interest with funds from the Evidence Exchange Network (EENet).

8 August 2014

HIA of Treatment Instead of Prison



Great news in the latest Human Impact Partners' email update:
In 2012, HIP partnered with WISDOM, a statewide congregation-based network, to assess the public health impacts of increasing funding for Wisconsin’s treatment and diversion programs for non-violent drug offenders. HIP’s study has had a tremendous impact on the conversation around treatment over incarceration in Wisconsin and helped win a four-fold increase in funding for treatment alternatives. Legislators from both parties have pledged continued support for future increases. Watch our video to learn more about this HIA success story.
Find out more here

6 August 2014

Brazilian guide to HIA

The first Brazilian guide to HIA has been released. From José Braz D. Padilha:
The first publication in Brazil about the use of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) has been released. 
The material was prepared by as part of technical advice for the Ministry of Health of Brazil, through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Among the supporters and collaborators of publication are Dr Guilherme Franco Netto, former director of the Department of Environmental Health Surveillance and Occupational Health of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Simone Miraglia, UNIFESP (Federal University of São Paulo), among others. 
The publication is available on the Virtual Health Library (BVS), the Ministry of Health of Brazil, at the link below. 
http://bvsms.saude.gov.br/bvs/publicacoes/avaliacao_impacto_saude_ais_metodologia.pdf 
This is a detailed guide for implementing HIA through partnerships with different institutions and professionals.
A terrific resource for Portuguese speaking HIA practitioners.

9 May 2014

Request for Expressions of Interest: Short term WHO consultancy

Short term consultancy to develop guidance and training materials on addressing health in environmental impact assessments - with a specific application on mining projects
World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland 

WHO is implementing a project to develop global guidance on ensuring adequate coverage of health issues as part of environmental impact assessment s (EIA) undertaken on mining projects.

Provisions related to the coverage of human health issues are included within environmental assessment regulations in many countries. In practice, however, coverage of health within EIA is often limited and predominantly only addresses physical environmental considerations (e.g. air, water soil and pollution/emissions related issues). Other factors that influence health, for example related to the social and human environment, are not often included or are considered separately as part of other types of assessments. The resulting picture of health that emerges can therefore be incomplete.

The overall aim of the WHO initiative is to enhance coverage of health in environmental impact assessment, in particular through the development of WHO guidance materials on health in EIA and through the development of training materials for environmental assessment regulators and their health sector counterparts.

WHO seeks an independent consultant(s) to support the above.

The Scope of Work for this consultancy consists of the following tasks:

1. Conduct a literature review of existing materials (including training materials) on health in environmental impact assessment. The primary focus will be on project level application of health in EIA and on the analysis of the extent to which health issues (and health determinants) are covered in current EIA practice. Key enabling factors and barriers influencing coverage of health in EIA should also be considered. To the extent possible, this literature review should take stock of publications available in multiple languages and reflective of experiences/practices in different regions around the world.

2. Develop three (3) guidance notes on health in EIA. These guidance notes should be formulated on the basis of the findings of the above literature review, and on the expertise and experience of the consultant. One of the guidance notes should be oriented towards environmental and health impact assessment regulators - i.e. those responsible for quality control of impact assessments undertaken; one should be orientated towards impact assessment practitioners; and one should be orientated towards project proponents - or entities that would normally commission an impact assessment study.
3. Develop training materials on health in EIA, based on the above guidance notes and on the findings of the literature review. These training materials should take the form of a 3 day course for environmental and health impact assessment regulatory authorities and should address issues related to the quality of coverage of health issues (i.e. what adequate health impact assessments should look like), as well as process related considerations (i.e. how and at what points in the EIA process health issues should be considered). Guidance on evaluation of core competencies of impact assessment practitioners should also be included. 
4. Delivery of the training materials/course in a low to middle income country host to large scale mining activities. Case examples used as pilot training should be based on actual examples from the pilot country. (A national consultant will be engaged to assist with the adaptation of both the guidance notes and training materials, including oversight of translation activities).

5. Updating of the training materials based on feedback from the course participants. 
6. Development of a case study based on the pilot - i.e. documenting lessons learned and
insights from the country experience.

Expected deliverables include: 
  • Report detailing results of the initial literature review.
  • Guidance notes on health in EIA: one for regulators, one for practitioners, and one for project proponents.
  • Training materials on health in EIA, which should include presentations, participant materials, training/instructor materials, and case examples for use in practical exercises.
  • Case study of the experience and lessons learned from the pilot. 
The World Health Organization Headquarters Offices in Geneva now invites eligible individuals firms/to indicate their interest in undertaking this work. Interested parties must provide information indicating that they are qualified to perform the above tasks: curriculum vitae, description of similar assignments, experience in similar conditions, examples of relevant reports or publications, etc. The consultant(s) will be selected through a competitive process in accordance with WHO's operating policies and procedures on procurement of services.

The expected start date of this consultancy is 01 June 2014 (or as soon as reasonably possible after that). The training activities are expected to be piloted in Q3 of 2014.

The consultancy will largely be home-based, apart from travel required to deliver the pilot training course.

The consultant will be remunerated at a daily rate that is commensurate with his/her experience and based on the UN common salary scale.

Qualifications and Experiences required: 
  • Advanced university degree in public health or a related field. 
  • At least 7 (seven) years of international experience working on public health and 
  • development issues; 
  • Demonstrated experience with the conduct of HIAs and/or integrated EIAs on mining 
  • projects; 
  • Experienced trainer and facilitator with demonstrated experience in designing and 
  • delivering training courses for audience not specialized in public health; 
  • Excellent analytical, written and verbal communication skills in English are required; 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills 
Expressions of interest must be received no later than 16:00 o'clock on Monday 19 May 2014. 
Please include copies of your CV as well as a description of the kinds of issues you would 
consider as part of this work (i.e. what framing you would take to address health in EIA). The 
expressions of interest are to be delivered electronically to Ms Sophie Schmitt at the following 
email address: schmitts@who.int.

[Via Michaela Pfeiffer, WHO]