Esi Wusuwa Nkyekyer

Project title: Use and effectiveness of health impact assessment in the energy and natural resources sector in the United States, 2007–2016

Degree: MPH | Program: Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) | Project type: Project
Completed in: 2018 | Faculty advisor: Andrew L. Dannenberg


Decisions made in the energy and natural resources sector can affect public health. This report reviews the characteristics and assesses the effectiveness of health impact assessments (HIAs) conducted in this sector. A total of 30 HIAs conducted in 14 states in the United States were identified using a targeted literature search. Five HIAs illustrative of the different source and sub-sector categories, and with identifiable impacts on decision-making processes were selected for review. An existing conceptual framework (Wismar) was used to assess the effectiveness of the five selected HIAs on decision-making related to non-renewable energy, renewable energy, mining and energy conservation. The 30 HIAs were performed for a variety of projects and assessed health impacts ranging from metabolic disorders to community livability. Eight of the 30 reports were incorporated into environmental impact assessments. All five selected HIAs were generally effective and raised awareness of the health effects of the projects being assessed; four were directly effective and led to changes in final project decisions. Their variable effectiveness may be related to the extent of community engagement and consideration of equity issues, differences in the details and quality of monitoring and evaluation plans devised as part of the HIA process, and whether the outcomes of monitoring and evaluation are reported.