27 June 2008

First HIA workshop for the Americas

We are excited to announce that the first-ever HIA Americas workshop will take place September 24-26, 2008 in the San Francisco Bay area.

This workshop will focus on the evolution/progress of HIA in North and South America. It is intended as a forum for current HIA practitioners to discuss regional issues of relevance. (We hope to stage a larger conference next year that can accommodate others who may be interested, such as those involved in EIA or SIA, community advocacy, etc.)

The workshop is being organized by Marla Orenstein and Murray Lee of Habitat Health Impact Assessment; Jonathan Heller of Human Impact Partners; Rajiv Bhatia and Lili Farhang of the San Francisco Department of Public Health; and Aaron Wernham of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council.

For more information, please visit habitatcorp.com/whats_new/conference.html or e-mail conference@habitatcorp.com

25 June 2008

Developing public sociology through health impact assessment

Eva Elliott, Gareth Williams (2008)
Sociology of Health & Illness


The renewed interest in ‘public sociology’ has sparked debate and discussion about forms of sociological work and their relationship to the State and civil society. Medical sociologists are accustomed to engaging with a range of publics and audiences inside and outside universities and are in a position to make an informed contribution to this debate. This paper describes how some of the debates about sociological work are played out through a ‘health impact assessment’ of a proposed housing renewal in a former coal mining community. We explore the dynamics of the health impact assessment process and relate it to wider debates, current in the social sciences, on the ‘new knowledge spaces’ within which contentious public issues are now being discussed, and the nature of different forms of expertise. The role of the ‘public sociologist’ in mediating the relationships between the accounts and interpretations of lay participants and the published ‘evidence’ is described as a process of mutual learning between publics, professionals and social scientists. It is argued that the continued existence and development of any meaningful ‘professional sociology’ requires an openness to a ‘public sociology’ which recognises and responds to new spaces of knowledge production.

Health impact assessment of global climate change: expanding on comparative risk assessment approaches for policy making

Jonathan Patz, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Holly Gibbs, and Rosalie Woodruff
Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 29: 27-39 (Volume publication date April 2008) 


Climate change is projected to have adverse impacts on public health. Cobenefits may be possible from more upstream mitigation of greenhouse gases causing climate change. To help measure such cobenefits alongside averted disease-specific risks, a health impact assessment (HIA) framework can more comprehensively serve as a decision support tool. HIA also considers health equity, clearly part of the climate change problem. New choices for energy must be made carefully considering such effects as additional pressure on the world's forests through large-scale expansion of soybean and oil palm plantations, leading to forest clearing, biodiversity loss and disease emergence, expulsion of subsistence farmers, and potential increases in food prices and emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Investigators must consider the full range of policy options, supported by more comprehensive, flexible, and transparent assessment methods.

17 June 2008

Climate change heat and cold impacts likely to vary by country and context

Canadian Medicine, the blog of the Editor of the National Review of Medicine, reports a study which estimates that climate change impacts are likely to lead to a rise in deaths in Quebec during the summer which will not be counterbalanced by fewer lives lost during the predicted warmer winters.

The study, by a team of Laval University researchers reported last month in the International Journal of Health Geographics, predicted that by 2080 there would be 8-15% more deaths during hotter summers i.e. 540 extra deaths compared to their 1981-1999 baseline.

The study team argues that this is because Quebecers are acclimatised to the cold winters - through good thermal building regulations and cheap fuel among other things - they are less likely to die in the current cold winters unlike in Europe where studies have shown that hotter summers and milder winters while leading to more deaths in the summer would lead to fewer deaths in the mild winters and fewer deaths overall (as Euopeans living in more temperate regiosn are less acclimatised to cold winters). The study also used a slightly different methodology than the European studies which may also account for some/all of the difference found and the authors argue that there modelling is more accurate and has taken account of seasonal variation unlike some previous studies.

This Canadian study, and other studies in the USA with similar results, shows that local context in terms of social, cultural, environmental and economic factors as well as individual and societal behavioural change are likely to influence adaptation to the effects climate change and the potential positive and negative health impacts.

We therefore need to use contextualise general research on climate change impacts by taking into account social and behavioural factors to provide the best predictions of likely effects.


The potential impact of climate change on annual and seasonal mortality for three cities in Québec, Canada
Bernard Doyon, Diane Bélanger and Pierre Gosselin
Published: 22 May 2008
International Journal of Health Geographics 2008, 7:23 doi:10.1186/1476-072X-7-23
Biomed Central (Open Access Journal)


4 June 2008

HIA Position in Liverpool, UK

Research Fellow (Health Impact Assessment)
£34,793 - £44,074 pa

IMPACT - International Health Impact Assessment Consortium, University of Liverpool

Location: Liverpool City Centre

Ref: R-567809/WWW

Closing date: 27 June 2008

You will work on health impact assessment consultancy projects
commissioned from IMPACT Plus and on our successful education and training programmes. You will have a higher degree in a relevant health, environmental or social science and advanced skills and experience in quantitative research methods. Experience of impact assessment and of project management, budgeting and training, as well as high level research and communication skills are essential. The post is available until 31 December 2009 with the possibility of extension.

Further details at: