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Society for Professional Journalists: Environment & Health

Vital and health statistics

Vital statistics refers to records of births, deaths, and marriages. The Department of Health in each state, city, or county is usually responsible for recording these events. Usually, copies of the certificates of birth, death, and marriage are not publicly accessible. Aggregate statistics are compiled and reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In Hawai`i, the Department of Health publishes vital statistics online. The DOH also publishes statistics about diseases and conditions and the results of health surveys.

Environmental Impact Statements

Environmental impact statements (EIS) and environmental assessments (EA) are documents that compile information about the environmental effects of a proposed activity or construction project. The military is a major producer of EISs because of its wide land holdings and many construction projects and defense programs.  Government agencies usually contract with planning firms to prepare EISs. Once prepared, they are deposited with the state office that manages environmental assessments. In Hawai`i, EISs are handled by the Office of Environmental Quality Control, which maintains an EA and EIS library. Printed copies of EAs and EISs are also deposited at public libraries in the vicinity of the affected site. Most EAs and EISs that have been issued are not available online, although they might be available electronically via a disk that is kept with the printed documents.