Spatial identification of potential health hazards: A systematic areal search approach

Spatial identification of potential health hazards: A systematic areal search approach

By: Svechkina A., Zusman M., Rybnikova N., Portnov B.A.
Published in: International Journal of Health Geographics
SDGs : SDG 11  |  Units: Social Sciences  | Time: 2017 |  Link
Description: Background and aims: Large metropolitan areas often exhibit multiple morbidity hotspots. However, the identification of specific health hazards, associated with the observed morbidity patterns, is not always straightforward. In this study, we suggest an empirical approach to the identification of specific health hazards, which have the highest probability of association with the observed morbidity patterns. Methods: The morbidity effect of a particular health hazard is expected to weaken with distance. To account for this effect, we estimate distance decay gradients for alternative locations and then rank these locations based on the strength of association between the observed morbidity and wind-direction weighted proximities to these locations. To validate this approach, we use both theoretical examples and a case study of the Greater Haifa Metropolitan Area (GHMA) in Israel, which is characterized by multiple health hazards. Results: In our theoretical examples, the proposed approach helped to identify correctly the predefined locations of health hazards, while in the real-world case study, the main health hazard was identified as a spot in the industrial zone, which hosts several petrochemical facilities. Conclusion: The proposed approach does not require extensive input information and can be used as a preliminary risk assessment tool in a wide range of environmental settings, helping to identify potential environmental risk factors behind the observed population morbidity patterns. © 2017 The Author(s).

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