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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Approaches to integrated monitoring for environmental health impact assessment

Hai-Ying Liu1*, Alena Bartonova1, Mathilde Pascal2, Roel Smolders3, Erik Skjetne4 and Maria Dusinska1

Author Affiliations

1 NILU - Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Instituttveien 18, 2027, Kjeller, Norway

2 InVS - French Institute for Public Health Surveillance, 12, rue du Val d’Osne, 94415, Saint-Maurice cedex, France

3 VITO - Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Boeretang 200, 2400, Mol, Belgium

4 Statoil - Statoil Research Center, Arkitekt Ebbells Veg 10, Rotvoll, 7005, Trondheim, Norway

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Environmental Health 2012, 11:88  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-11-88

Published: 21 November 2012

Abstract

Although Integrated Environmental Health Monitoring (IEHM) is considered an essential tool to better understand complex environmental health issues, there is no consensus on how to develop such a programme. We reviewed four existing frameworks and eight monitoring programmes in the area of environmental health. We identified the DPSEEA (Driving Force-Pressure-State-Exposure-Effect-Action) framework as most suitable for developing an IEHM programme for environmental health impact assessment. Our review showed that most of the existing monitoring programmes have been designed for specific purposes, resulting in narrow scope and limited number of parameters. This therefore limits their relevance for studying complex environmental health topics. Other challenges include limited spatial and temporal data availability, limited development of data sharing mechanisms, heterogeneous data quality, a lack of adequate methodologies to link disparate data sources, and low level of interdisciplinary cooperation. To overcome some of these challenges, we propose a DPSEEA-based conceptual framework for an IEHM programme that would enable monitoring and measuring the impact of environmental changes on human health. We define IEHM as ‘a systemic process to measure, analyse and interpret the state and changes of natural-eco-anthropogenic systems and its related health impact over time at the same location with causative explanations across the various compartments of the cause-effect chain’. We develop a structural work process to integrate information that is based on existing environmental health monitoring programmes. Such a framework allows the development of combined monitoring systems that exhibit a large degree of compatibility between countries and regions.