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

International journal of environmental research and public health

PubMedID: 25493391

Linzalone N, Assennato G, Ballarini A, Cadum E, Cirillo M, Cori L, De Maio F, Musmeci L, Natali M, Rieti S, Soggiu ME, Bianchi F. 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(12):12683-12699.
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 the 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.