Information needs in assessment design
- The text on this page is taken from an equivalent page of the IEHIAS-project.
A wide range of data are often needed to support an integrated impact assessment, either as inputs to the modelling or as a means of validating the results. These include data on:
- Sources (e.g. land use, economic activities, geology, soils, vegetation);
- Releases (e.g. emissions to air, water or soil);
- Environmental concentrations or states (e.g. pollutant concentrations, extent and intensity of natural hazards) or the environmental processes and conditions (e.g. meteorology, land cover, topography) needed to calculate them;
- Exposures (or the population distributions and time activity patterns needed to estimate them);
- Exposure-response functions;
- Background health rates;
- Impact weights (e.g. disease severity weights, monetary weights, discount rates).
The extent to which these are available (and affordable), and their quality, will inevitably condition the way the assessment is designed. On the other hand, evaluating what information is available and assessing their utility can be extremely time-consuming, so is only worth doing in detail once a decision has been made to proceed with a full assessment (i.e. after screening has been completed and evidence has been gained that significant health impacts are likely to occur). Initially, therefore, we may need to rely on what we already know about information availability, or what we can quickly glean from readily available sources, such as online data inventories and metadatabases, or published reviews.