Abstracts: ISEE 22nd Annual Conference, Seoul, Korea, 28 August-1 September 2010: Health Impact Assessment and Burden of Disease
Work presented on behalf of the Transportation, Air Pollution, and Physical ActivitieS (TAPAS) workshop participants. Cities are increasingly turning towards transportation policies that encourage walking and cycling to tackle a range of problems from physical inactivity to local air pollution and climate change. It has thus become particularly important to understand how such strategies may overall affect health.
To inform the development of an integrated assessment of active travel policies, an international workshop was held in November 2009, gathering 45 international experts from 29 institutes/research groups in fields of social and policy sciences, behavioural psychology, epidemiology, transportation and urban planning, environmental sciences, and public health. The objective was to review the state of the art knowledge in relevant fields, discussing strengths and limitations of evidence of different linkages between urban and transportation policies, exposures and public health, to determine the relevance and appropriateness of exposures, outcomes, and exposure-response functions to be included in a quantitative assessment.
The choice of policy scenarios, exposures, and outcomes to be integrated, and assessment methods, were debated. Greatest benefits may be expected from increased physical activity, and most robust quantitative relationships from health benefits of physical activity and reductions in certain air pollutant. Linking policies to behaviours and exposures is more uncertain. Traffic injuries could be an important health driver, with many factors influencing risks. Many other impacts (eg, noise, UV, diet, social interaction, crime) may not be sufficiently researched to allow quantification. Most appropriate assessment methods depend on audience and outcomes chosen.
Participants agreed on the importance of a comprehensive assessment of active travel policies and underlined its complexity. Optimal design solutions can be investigated for positive net health benefits including physical activity and obesity outcomes.