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Health Impact Assessment

What is a Health Impact Assessment?

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a policy and planning tool use to provide decision-makers in non-health related sectors—such as elected officials and government staff—with information and recommendations on how their proposed plans and policies will likely impact the health of the communities they serve. The overall goal of HIA is to ensure that health is considered when decisions are made.

The following organizations are excellent resources for learning about HIA:

Why is HIA Important?

How often do the authors of plans and policies that are focused on changing our social, economic, and physical environments actually consider how they might also impact health? In many cases, such non-health focused plans and policies (education, development, immigration, agriculture, and others) can directly and indirectly impact our health in many ways. HIA is used to help shed light on those potential health outcomes, help quantify their impacts, and produce recommendations that help maximize positive health benefits and minimize negative health impacts.

For more information on Health Impact Assessment, visit the Health Impact Project website.

Local Examples of HIA

Healthy Waterways (January 2012 - June 2013): The University of Rochester received a grant from the Health Impact Project - a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts – to prepare an HIA that will inform the City of Rochester, NY’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) update. The LWRP, conducted as part of the New York State Division of Coastal Resource’s (NYSDCR) statewide coastal management program, will guide city, private, and state/federal decisions affecting Rochester’s waterways into the next decade. Throughout Healthy Waterways, we worked with community partners to explore the links between the LWRP and health, and determine whether, and how, HIAs could help Rochester promote decisions and policies that enhance the built environment and improve community health. The LWRP will address Rochester's waterfront along the Erie Canal, Genesee River, and Lake Ontario, including the Port of Rochester and Durand Eastman Beach. The planning area includes downtown Rochester, diverse neighborhoods, brownfield sites, parklands and trails, and the waterfront around the University of Rochester. For more information and related documents, please visit the Healthy Waterways project page.

Prepared by Environmental Health Sciences Center CEC staff with support from NIEHS grant #ES001247 and the Health Impact Project.