Environmental health assessment covers a broad area: virtually all systematic analysis to support decision making on issues relevant to environment and health. Consequently, various different approaches have been developed and applied for different needs within the broad field. In this paper we explore the plurality of approaches and attempt to reveal the state-of-the-art in environmental health assessment by characterizing and explicating the similarities and differences between them. A diverse, yet concise, set of approaches to environmental health assessment is analyzed in terms of nine attributes: purpose, problem owner, question, answer, process, use, interaction, performance and establishment. The conclusions of the analysis underline the multitude and complexity of issues in environmental health assessment as well as the variety of perspectives taken to address them. In response to the challenges, a tendency towards developing and applying more inclusive, pragmatic and integrative approaches can be identified. The most interesting aspects of environmental health assessment are found among these emerging approaches: (a) increasing engagement between assessment and management as well as stakeholders, (b) strive for framing assessments according to specific practical policy needs, (c) integration of multiple benefits and risks, as well as (d) explicit incorporation of both scientific facts and value statements in assessment. However, such approaches are yet to become established, and many contemporary mainstream environmental health assessment practices can still be characterized as relatively traditional risk assessment.
Pohjola, M., Leino, O., Kollanus, V., Tuomisto, J., Gunnlaugsdottir, H., Holm, F., Kalogeras, N., Luteijn, J., Magnusson, S., Odekerken-Schröder, G. J.
, Tijhuis, M. J., Ueland, O., White, B., & Verhagen, H. (2012). State of the art in benefit-risk analysis: Environmental health
. Food and Chemical Toxicology
(1), 40-55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2011.06.004