Integrating Research and Education > Environmental Health Risk Assessment > Example Activity > How Healthy is Your Neighborhood Activity

Activity: How healthy is your neighborhood?

You are going to complete an environmental health risk inventory of your neighborhood or hometown. Before you get started, you may want to review the terminology and familiarize yourself with environmental health risk assessments. If you are curious about how an inventory might look, check out the tutorial to get some ideas.

Terms

Hazard
Something with the potential to cause harm; however, it does not always put you at risk; "a property or situation that in particular circumstances could lead to harm." (EEA, 1999).
Risk
The potential for disaster; "the combination of the probability, or frequency, of occurrence of a defined hazard and the magnitude of the consequences of the occurrence." (EEA, 1999)
Risk assessment
"Risk assessment is the process of estimating the potential impact of a chemical, physical, microbiological or psychosocial hazard on a specified human population or ecological system under a specific set of conditions and for a certain time frame." (enHealth, 2012)
Environmental health risk assessment
"The scope of environmental health risk assessment (EHRA) can cover health impacts of chemical pollutants and contaminants in air, water, soil and food, pathogenic microbiological contaminants in food and water, radiation sources, electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and climate and climate change."
(enHealth, 2012)

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How Healthy is Your Neighborhood


The risk assessment process typically consists of four main steps: hazard identification, exposure assessments, dose-response assessments and risk characterization. However, official risk assessments are very detailed and time-consuming. We will be completing a simplified risk inventory that focuses on health risk in a neighborhood or town. Our risk inventory starts with our town, therefore we can complete a modified assessment in three steps: hazard identification, risks/effect on human health and summary/assessment of the locale.

Step 1: Hazard Identification
Identify the possible health hazards in your neighborhood.
Use the following tools to locate potential health hazards in your neighborhood
Note: Save or print your maps, you will need to hand these in with your assessment summary
Step 2: Risk/Effect on Human Health
Identify any unusual health problems in your neighborhood and research possible health effects of potential hazards in the area.
Use the following tools and databases to identify health problems in your neighborhood.
Step 3: Summary/Assessment of the Locale
Compile and assess your data.
Using the information you found, address the following questions:
  • What is the overall environmental health risk in your neighborhood?
    • Is it a healthy place to live?
    • How does it compare to other cities?
      Use Scorecard, a tool that helps you find, ranks and compares the environmental health of your neighborhood to the national average, to help you answer this question.
  • What are the likely explanations for your results?
  • Did you already know about any environmental health risks you discovered in your neighborhood?
  • Do you feel comfortable living with any environmental health risks you discovered in your neighborhood?
  • Do you feel the risks warrant action (policy changes, town meetings, etc.)?
  • Will you inform others of environmental health risks in your neighborhood?
  • What are the chemicals I identified? Are they bad? What are the risks associated with them?
    Use the websites identified in the tutorial

Assignment

Turn In:
  • Maps (print-outs or on disk) created using the online mapping tools
  • Any relevant data tables you produced using the online databases
  • MOST IMPORTANT! Your summary and assessment of the environmental health risks found in your neighborhood.

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