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Economic evaluation and decision-making in environmental health

Cristina Gutiérrez Zúñiga, Patricia Hernández Peña, Claudia Ortiz Guerrero, Rocío Zurutuza Fernández, Carlos Santos-Burgoa


Due to the increasing deterioration of the enviroment and its possible consequences for the health of the population the design and implementation of policies for the control of economic activities according to criteria for the protection of human health and the environment itself have become an unquestionable need. Such policies would incluede the economic feasibility of existing alternatives for protection. Due to the huge interests involved, however, other factors, both social and political should also be taken into consideration. Economic evaluation has been seen as a promising foundation for the decision making process in this subject. This tool's capacity systematically to organize and compare the costs and the benefits of the alternatives for the solution of enviromental problems is analysed.The main characteristics of cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness studies are summarized, as well as the possible forms of economic evalution, of the enviroment and the detailsof this field for the application of such techiniques of analysis. The limits of these tools for the quantifycation of the non-monetary costs of environmental risks and the consequent damage to health, whethea as pain,suffering or the disability of non-economic ally active persons are set out as these constitute the methodological challenge of the economic evaluation in the area. The importance of the enhancement of information input for the decision-making process relating to environmental health issues such as the distributions of costs and benefits among the different social groups is scrutinized. Lastly, the growuing political concern with environment issues is stated, as well as the techinical possibility of the manipulation of these analytical tools. On the basis of these elements,the need for evaluators to be conscious on the political implications of their studies, as well as the importance of their relationship with the decision-makers in view of the need for effective relevance to current environmental issues


Cost benefit analysis;Decision making;Environmental health^i3^secon

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-89101994000200010

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