Protecting health using an environmental impact assessment: a case study of San Francisco land use decisionmaking

Am J Public Health. 2007 Mar;97(3):406-13. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.073817. Epub 2007 Jan 31.


Laws and regulations for an environmental impact assessment enable a health impact assessment whenever physical changes in the environment may significantly affect health. In this case study, I describe 2 instances in which a local public health agency used the procedural requirements for an environmental impact assessment to account for societal-level health determinants that are not traditionally evaluated in land-use decisions. These examples show that a public health critique can contribute both to the scope of analysis in an environmental impact assessment and to substantive changes in land-use decisions. I have evaluated this health appraisal approach as a form of a health impact assessment and will make recommendations for law, research, and practice that support its technical, cultural, and political feasibility.

MeSH terms

  • City Planning / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • City Planning / organization & administration
  • Community Participation
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Environment Design / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Environmental Health / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Housing / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Policy Making
  • Public Health Administration*
  • Public Policy*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / organization & administration*
  • San Francisco
  • Sociology, Medical
  • Urban Health / standards*