Environmental Health Risk Assessment

banner image with mine GIS map satellite photo of New York students at computer

Using online databases and GIS tools to research environmental risks in your neighborhood.


The geosciences play an important role in human and environmental health. Air and water quality, natural and anthropogenic toxins all contribute to the health hazards and risks in every neighborhood. The recent Cutting Edge workshop Geology and Human Health discussed the importance of teaching geosciences and human health issues, as well as the emergence of fields such as "medical geology" which emphasize the important relationship between the geosciences and health. Environmental risk assessments require the integration of geoscience and human health data. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allows researchers to model and assess multiple layers of environmental, geologic and demographic information. This multi-dimensional approach is essential for understanding the complete environmental risk and health risks of an area.

As GIS-based mapping tools and large health-related data sets become more readily available on the web, instructors can provide students with a real-time opportunity to evaluate the environmental risks and health hazards in their own neighborhoods. The tools and databases on the web not only provide an opportunity for instructors to encourage students to use data and develop quantitative skills, but also provide way for students to learn the skills necessary to become informed, responsible citizens.

What is the purpose of this project?

This site is designed to help instructors and students locate and use some of the numerous health-related tools and databases that can be found on the web. Instructors and students will also find a series of step-by-step instructions for using the tools and databases. Finally, we provide case studies of several neighborhoods using health-related tools and databases to elucidate the environmental risk in those locales. The ultimate goal...you will learn how to complete a basic environmental risk inventory of your own neighborhood!

Complete an environmental health risk inventory of your own neighborhood!

  • Tutorial- this page is designed to provide a step-by-step example of how to perform an environmental health risk inventory. The example investigates Bozeman, Montana.
  • Activity- this page contains an assignment and instructions for completing your own environmental health risk inventory.
  • Mapping Tools and Databases - this page contains a list of some mapping tools available on the World Wide Web and links to the tutorials for each mapping tool, as well as a list of online databases with searchable health-related information and data.
This site was written by Laurie Cantwell as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education.

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