Article 19 of the law on air of 30 December 1996 provides the legal basis requiring that health effects be explicitly included in the impact studies conducted in the framework of installations listed for environmental protection (industrial and agricultural) or during urban planning projects (concerning roads or rail, etc.).
As part of the assessment of health risks run by the population due to chronic exposure, the French Ministry of Health wanted to coordinate the various administrations and scientific bodies with a view to improving the practices of all those involved in health risk assessments in the framework of urban planning projects or listed installations.
On the proposal of the chairman of the living environments department of the French High Council for Public Hygiene (CSHPF), and by decree of 1 July 2002, a permanent working group, the "Observatory of health risk assessment practices in impact studies" (OPERSEI), was created within the living environments department of the CSHPF, published in the Official Report of the French Ministry of Health.
Two objectives were assigned to the OPERSEI in its founding text:
improve the practice of all those involved in health risk assessments in the framework of urban planning projects or listed installations,
provide support to the French Ministry of Health, which must issue an opinion on the quality of the health aspects of impact studies and the estimated risk levels. For this purpose, the group is expected to:
draw up an inventory of practical and methodological difficulties encountered in the field when assessing the health impact of urban planning projects or listed installations,
identify current knowledge, useful for carrying out risk assessment studies,
identify gaps in this field,
stimulate the production of new knowledge,
ensure the distribution of information on the website and intranet site of the French Ministry of Health.
The OPERSEI must thereby enable the professionals who implement impact studies (engineering departments, manufacturers) or review them critically (state departments, environmental legal experts, environmental and/or health protection agencies), to improve their practices.
In 2005, the OPERSEI extended its activity to cover technical issues concerning sites and polluted soils.
Participants in the OPERSEI are as follows:
AFSSET (French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety)
CERTU (French Centre for Research on Networks, Transport, Town Planning and Public Buildings)
CNAM (French National Conservatory of Arts and Trades)
CSHPF (French High Council for Public Hygiene)
ENSP (French National College for Public Health)
INERIS (French National Institute for the Industrial Environment and Risks)
InVS (French Institute for Public Health Surveillance)
French Ministry of Health and Solidarities, Directorate General for Health, Sub-Directorate for Environmental Risk Management, Bureau SD7B
French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, Directorate for Risk and Pollution Prevention
French Ministry of Employment, Social Cohesion and Housing, Directorate for Work Relations.
The OPERSEI is chaired by the ENSP and its secretariat is provided by the Directorate General for Health.
Questions should be sent to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org