09/09/2011 - The public health consequences of projects ranging from highways to grain subsidies can be severe and should be reviewed the same way they are for their impact on the environment, a panel of health experts said Thursday.
The National Academy of Sciences panel noted that obesity can be linked to highways and housing developments that encourage people to drive rather than ride a bike or walk. Crop subsidies for corn and soy beans can promote fattening, nutrient-poor foods.
On the other hand, a health assessment of quick-read electronic toll tags found they can lower the rate of premature births among women living in nearby neighborhoods by curbing air pollution from cars lining up at toll road booths.
Panel member Aaron Wernham of the Pew Charitable Trusts said some large corporations such as Chevron Corp. already include health impact assessments in their project studies.
"It's not necessarily an added cost or an added layer of bureaucracy," Wernham said. "It can help you do a better job upfront."
Read the full article Health Impact Reviews Urged for Developments on the Dallas Morning News' Web site (subscription required).