Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has gone a long way since the ‘50s, when the impact of development projects on the environment has gained attention for social concern (Turnbull 2001, 3). Today, not only has EIA become a well-established process internationally (Bond…
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2009, cited in Harris and Spickett 2010, 1)
The development of EIA’s methodologies and procedures originated in North America, later in Europe, mainly by ecologists whose concern in assessing the impacts of development activities focused more on human health. Similar efforts were then made for the development of health impact assessment methodologies and procedures, but this had not been as smooth as EIA’s. The (1) ‘lack of epidemiological knowledge regarding dose-response relationships’ and the (2) ill-preparedness of concerned government authorities to release documents showing in concrete figures the impact of development on the incidences of death and diseases made the latter job difficult. The first problem made it difficult to determine the effect of environmental changes on health, for example, the release of pollutants; whereas, the second problem denied hard evidences on the adverse health impacts of development. (Giroult1990, 259) Resultantly, the health components have become the main limitations of many EIA studies. A WHO commissioned study of 15 EIAs testified to this saying: “... off-site health effects generally have been given a low priority and have not been treated systematically” (cited in Giroult1990, 259). To ensure that health will be consciously considered in EIAs against these difficulties, a new approach, namely Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) was proposed. (Giroult1990, 259)
To understand this new approach, the key term – environmental health – that differentiates it from the current approach has to be defined. From Listorti and Doumani’s (2001) noted environmental health’s definition, it essentially means, as that which prevents health hazards, namely ‘increasing human diseases, injury, and premature death’, while pursuing development activities (349). Main health hazards are classified as:
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