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Health Impact Assessment (HIA) offers a means of identifying potential population health effects associated with the built environment. Conducting HIA as new projects, plans, and policies are being developed can inform and influence decision makers, help address health disparities, and promote partnerships. Examples of factors that can be assessed include physical activity, air quality and respiratory diseases, accessibility for persons with disabilities, and social equity and environmental justice.
Through a partnership facilitated by the Steps to Health grant, Feet First and the Environmental Health Services Division of Public Health - Seattle & King County are piloting a Health Impact Assessment project in the North Beacon Hill neighborhood concerning future development plans and a Sound Transit Light Rail stop that may affect the health of local residents. An additional objective of the project was to offer HIA training at PHSKC and other agencies and organizations.
In December 2006, PHSKC and Feet First sponsored a seminar on Health Impact Assessment with presentations by Kathy Baughman McLeod and Melanie Simmons, co-founders of Healthy Development, Inc. The nearly 100 attendees included developers, planners, local and state health agency staff, university staff and faculty, community residents and advocacy organizations. Eight cities and six counties were represented. The attendees reflect the growing interest in the built environment among a broad range of audiences. The complexity of the built environment and health requires the skills and knowledge of many.
We can expect to see increased use of HIA to guide development of the built environment. In 2006 the Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 6195 declaring it state policy to include health impact assessment and consider health disparities for people of color. The House Bill 3097 directs the State Board of Health to complete health impact assessments in collaboration with an Interagency Council on Health Disparities, however, a limited budget was appropriated to carry out these directions.
Public Health Seattle King County, Feet First, Steps to Health King County
Featured: Spring 2007
Architects and developers; local, state and regional planners; local and state health agencies; universities; community residents and advocacy organizations
Seattle, King County