CONNECTING THE DOTS: CLIMATE CHANGE & HEALTH

Climate change impacts our health in many ways.  From the increased respiratory issues such as asthma, to the water quality, heat vulnerability, and extreme weather events that affect our mental health.  Climate change impacts all of us.  

United we stand to protect our health.

Extreme Weather Events

  • Extreme weather events include hurricanes, flooding, drought, heat waves, and wildfires.  As our temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, it will exacerbate extreme weather events.
  • Extreme weather events cause injuries, fatalities, displacement, and several health impacts.   
  • As ocean temperatures continue to rise, hurricanes will become larger and stronger.
  • The flood waters from king tides and sunny day flooding are contaminated with sewage, increasing the chance of infection for people walking in that water.


The Air We Breathe

  • Air pollution kills approximately an average of 6.5 million people globally per year.
  • Air pollution exacerbates asthma and cardiovascular disease.  
  • High temperatures contribute to poor air quality, including the formation of ground-level ozone, which triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses. 
  • The spring pollen season is already occurring earlier in the United States for certain types of plants, and the length of the season has increased, aggravating respiratory diseases.

Changes in Vector Ecology

 

  • Mosquitoes, ticks, & flees live longer & the range of their territory is expanding.  This is caused by earlier spring seasons, shorter & milder winters, & hotter summers.  
  • Mosquitoes thrive in hot, humid conditions, & transmit West Nile virus, Zika, dengue, malaria, etc. 
  • Warmer conditions increase the activity of mosquitoes & speeds up the incubation of the virus, like Zika, inside the mosquito. 

Drinking Water

  • Florida's fresh water supplies are threatened by salt water intrusion due to rising sea levels.
  • Salt water intrusion is already putting our aquifers at risk, and in some cases cities have had to move wells inland to adapt.
  • Without access to clean water we face numerous health impacts, including dehydration and death.


Extreme Heat

  • Extreme heat causes increased muscle pains or spasms, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and exacerbates respiratory and cardiovascular issues, and dehydration. 
  • Outdoor workers, athletes, and homeless people are more vulnerable because they spend more time outdoors. Low-income households and older adults may lack access to air conditioning. 
  • Young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with certain medical conditions are less able to regulate their body temperature and can therefore be more vulnerable to extreme 

Algal Blooms

  • A harmful algal bloom (HAB) occurs when certain types of microscopic algae grow quickly in water, typically forming visible patches that may harm the health of the environment, plants, or animals. 
  • HABs can deplete the oxygen and block the sunlight that other organisms need to live, and some HABs produce toxins that are dangerous to animals, including people.
  • HABs can occur in marine, estuarine, and fresh waters and can impair drinking and recreational waters. In addition, HAB-associated toxins can contaminate seafood. 
  • HABs appear to be increasing in frequency along the coastlines and in the surface waters of the United States according to NOAA. These increases are likely responses to an overabundance of nutrients, such as nitrogen from fertilizers, and warmer temperatures associated with climate change.

Food Systems

  • Rising levels of greenhouse gases can affect the nutrition levels in food crops such as: protein, iron and zinc content of rice, wheat, peas and other food crops. 
  • This could put more people at risk of malnutrition. 
  • Though wheat and rice are not high in protein, nearly three-quarters of the world's population uses these two crops as "primary protein sources," the study says, based on data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. 
  • One study published in Environmental Health Perspectives estimates that the predicted decreases in the protein content of food crops may put about 150 million additional people at risk of protein deficiency by 2050.  
  •  Iron deficiency is the most common cause for anemia. And a "staggering" number of people are anemic – two billion, according to the World Health Organization. Iron deficiency can also impair growth and lower children's IQs.