A public health assessment reviews available information about contaminants at a site and evaluates whether exposure to them might cause any harm to people. It includes considering completed human exposure pathways, community health concerns and available health outcome data, characterizing contaminants originating from the site and can result in findings of public health hazard.
WHO, both in the European Region and at the global level, is developing guidelines and other methodological material to help countries improve and harmonize their capability for environmental health impact assessment.
Health impact assessments and public health assessments consider: (1) Concentrations of contaminants (amount of contaminants in water, e.g., 5 parts per billion or ppb); (2) Potential exposure to contaminants (e.g., inhalation, ingestion); (3) Possible toxicity of contaminants (e.g., liver damage); (4) Specific community health concerns (e.g., elevated cancer rates); and (5) Physical hazards (e.g., unsafe or abandoned buildings). They will further consider: (1) Environmental data (e.g., soil, groundwater); (2) Demographic data (e.g., ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, and gender of the human population); (3) Health data (e.g., available information on community-wide rates of illness, disease, and death); and (4) Community concerns (e.g., affect on people's health or quality of life).