Climate change and human health
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Heidi E. Brown, Ph.D., M.P.H. University of Arizona School of Geography and Development College of Public Health. Climate Change and Human Health. Climate and Health. Climate-related exposures can be the direct cause of illness or death such as death from hyperthermia

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Climate Change and Human Health

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Heidi E. Brown, Ph.D., M.P.H.

University of Arizona

School of Geography and Development

College of Public Health

Climate Change and Human Health


Climate and Health

  • Climate-related exposures can be the direct cause of illness or death

    • such as death from hyperthermia

  • Climate-related exposures can also be a contributing cause of health problems by exacerbating an already existing medical condition

    • such as heart disease

    • or exert indirect effects, as by inducing changes in the ranges of organisms that transmit disease


Climate Change & Health in the Southwest

  • More heat waves and urban warming

  • Longer and more severe ozone seasons

  • Increased pollen allergen production w/ earlier season start

  • Fungus/mold growth due to swings in precip/temp extremes

  • Risk of water-borne pathogens via flooding and higher water temperatures

  • Higher rainfall variability moderating rodent-borne diseases

  • Marginal shifts in mosquito vector ranges, but w/ potential population impact


Extreme Events

Heat Related Deaths – Chicago

Maximum Temperature and Heat Index

July 11 -23, 1995

http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/Library/nationalassessment/LargerImages/SectorGraphics/Health/HeatDeaths.jpg


Air Quality

  • Rising temps increase concentrations of ozone and possibly PM2.5

    • Longer, more severe ozone season

    • Breathing problems, airway inflammation

http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/Library/nationalassessment/LargerImages/SectorGraphics/Health/Ozone.jpg


Water- & Food-borne Disease

  • Effects of precipitation & temperature

  • Natural flooding and fecal bacteria (E. Coli)

  • Temperature increases and Salmonella cases

# Salmonella cases/month

Ave. monthly temp (°C)

http://www.niwascience.co.nz/pubs/wa/12-2/images/flood2_large.jpg

http://www.who.int/globalchange/climate/en/fig4.2.gif


Wildfires

  • Smoke exposure associated with respiratory and eye symptoms, increased ER visits

  • Loss of property/home,

  • Increased mudslide risk

Wallow Wildfire, 2011

Credit: Brent Watcher IMET National Weather Service/US Forest Service


Conclusions

  • Natural and human systems are complex

  • Warmer & more extreme climate shifts will lead to direct health impacts and exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

  • Effects will be mediated by social & ecological factors

    • Disadvantaged population bear greater burden

  • New work on co-benefits

    • Climate change mitigation policies that provide ancillary health benefits


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