Learn about community environmental health assessment
What is environmental health?
Environmental health is “the discipline that focuses on the health interrelationships
between people and their environment, promotes human health and well-being, and
fosters a safe and healthful environment.” (National Association of County & City
Health Officials) Broadly defined, the term “environment” includes the places where
we spend our time—homes, schools, workplaces, recreational spaces, and communities—as
well as our food, air, and water.
What is community environmental health assessment, and why do it?
Community environmental health assessment (CEHA) is the evaluation of a community’s
health by looking at environmental conditions. These assessments include input from
the community and provide a solid basis from which communities may resolve environmental
problems that affect health.
CEHA assumes the following principles to be true:
- People and organizations in the community know a lot about what most directly affects
their environment and health.
- These organizations and individuals can identify their most pressing problems, and
have the skills and resources to work together to devise solutions.
- A community-driven process designed locally will most likely be acceptable to a
majority of the area’s residents and neighbors. (Environmental Law Institute)
CEHA processes often result in the development of indicators to measure the environmental
health of a community. Data from these indicators may be compared to state or federal
data. Indicators often reveal weaknesses or gaps, or point to the need for more
CEHA methods and resources
Several processes have been developed for collecting, organizing, and documenting
information about the state of a community’s health. Click on the following highlighted
methods for more information and guidance. Go to the CDC's
Healthy Places Terminology for some helpful definitions.
Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) PACE-EH directs the
assessment of environmental health issues, the development of action plans, and
the evaluation of progress on priority issues, keeping public values and priorities
in mind. PACE EH includes methods to enhance awareness of environmental issues and
to improve collaboration among diverse groups.
Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP)
promotes strategic thinking and planning techniques to prioritize public health
issues and enhance the performance of public health.
Health Impact Assessment (HIA)
is the evaluation of the effects of a new or changed policy or project on a population
in a community before the change happens.