Development of a spatial web tool to identify hotspots of environmental burdens in Wallonia (Belgium)

  • Sarah HabranEmail author
  • Pierre Crespin
  • Mathieu Veschkens
  • Suzanne Remy
Environmental Pollution, Food Contamination, Risk Assessment and Remediation


In response to the Walloon Environment and Health Program, the Scientific Institute of Public Services (ISSeP) developed an integrated approach of environmental exposure assessment in the Walloon region, Belgium. The study presents an index-based approach to estimate the multiple environmental burdens at regional level and detailed local resolution. Indicators are based on environmental measurements of pollutants in ambient air and soil, and on stressors for citizens related to noise and radon. These indicators were mapped as proportions to obtain an accurate comparison between spatial units. In order to indicate the need for intervention, environmental indicators are calculated as the proportion of areas where the level of detrimental environmental factors exceeds threshold values from WHO guidelines and Walloon legal threshold values. In parallel, a spatial web tool based on GIS was developed to enable a flexible and weighted combination of the normalized indicators by computing the resulting composite index online. This interactive web tool designed for policy makers and experts eases the spatial analysis of results in order to identify geographic areas where hotspot exposures are a potential risk to human health. The next steps of this work aim to integrate more environmental indicators (stressors and benefits) and some sociodemographic and health indicators in order to detect vulnerable populations. A holistic assessment is essential to inform environmental justice debates and to ensure a health conducive equal environment. Finally, this environmental health tool will support decision makers focus resources and programs to improve the environmental health of Walloons living in areas disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution.


Cumulative exposure Geospatial analysis/GIS Environmental equity Composite indicators Environmental burdens Environmental health tool Wallonia 



Authors wish to thank members of the steering committee of the SIGEnSa project for their feedback and guidance on methodology, indicator and data selection, and preliminary results. Authors also thank the Walloon Public Service (SPW), the Scientific Institute of Public Services (ISSeP), the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), and the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (AFCN) for providing the data.

Funding information

This work is part of the SIGEnSa project financially supported by the ministerial funds for the Risk Assessment (decree D-31-3800), committed by the Cellule Permanente Environnement Santé (CPES) of the Walloon Public Service (SPW).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Habran
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pierre Crespin
    • 2
  • Mathieu Veschkens
    • 1
  • Suzanne Remy
    • 1
  1. 1.Chronic Risks, Institut Scientifique de Service Public (ISSeP)LiegeBelgium
  2. 2.Air Quality, Institut Scientifique de Service Public (ISSeP)LiegeBelgium

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