Linkage Methods for Environment and Health Analysis (HEADLAMP Project)
General Guidelines WHO/EHG/95.26
Document produced by the WHO Division of Global Environmental Health
Briggs, D., Corvalán, C., Nurminen, M.
Technical Units
Order Number    19300089 Format    Package
Price    CHF    18.00 / US$    21.60 Developing countries:    CHF    12.60
English     1996        136   pages
Table of contents
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Translation(s) available
A practical guide to the many existing tools and methods that can be used to monitor exposure to environmental pollutants and quantify their effects on human health. Noting that decisions concerning environmental protection have far-reaching and costly consequences, the book responds to the urgent need to base decisions on reliable data about real health hazards and the most appropriate measures for their correction or prevention. The book also aims to encourage closer collaboration between environmental epidemiologists and decision-makers, so that existing scientific knowledge and routine health data can be put to the best practical use. With these goals in mind, the book offers abundant advice on how to obtain information that is reliable, consistent, focused on issues of real concern, quickly available, and issued in an understandable and useful form.
The book has six chapters. Background information is provided in the first, which discusses the magnitude of health problems linked to environmental pollution and introduces the many methodological problems that can complicate the quantification of health impacts, compromise the validity of data, and undermine their utility in the decision-making process. The chapter also describes the HEADLAMP project and its three distinctive features: reliance on established relationships between environmental exposure and health effects, the use of routinely-collected data, and an overriding aim to support preventive action. The second and most extensive chapter explains how carefully selected environmental health indicators can provide vital support to the decision-making process. Specific methods of assessment are then discussed in separate chapters concerned with exposure assessment and the assessment of health effects. Advice on the use of routine exposure data covers sources of data and factors that can influence their quality.
The need to link exposure and health data forms the focus of chapter five, which offers particularly useful advice on the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to linkage analysis, including the ecological method, time series analysis, quantitative risk assessment and geographical information systems. Though readers are alerted to the many methodological problems and pitfalls surrounding these methods, the authors also demonstrate the solid guidance possible when these tools, and the routine established data they rely on, are put to appropriate use. The concluding chapter elaborates a basic framework for decision-making based on valid, scientific data.