Climate Change & Human Health
A changing climate impacts our health and wellbeing. The major public health organizations of the world have said that climate change is a critical public health problem. Climate change makes many existing diseases and conditions worse, but it may also help introduce new pests and pathogens into new regions or communities. As the planet warms, oceans expand and the sea level rises, floods and droughts become more frequent and intense, and heat waves and hurricanes become more severe. The most vulnerable people—children, the elderly, the poor, and those with underlying health conditions—are at increased risk for health effects from climate change. Climate change also stresses our health care infrastructure and delivery systems.
Steps can be taken to lessen climate change (“mitigation”) and reduce its impacts on our health and the health of future generations (“adaptation”). Some of these steps can yield benefits for our health, environment, economy, and society at the same time. The federal government has called for efforts to support adaptation and mitigation of climate change to create healthier, more sustainable communities. The goals of the NIEHS Climate Change and Human Health Program align with these efforts.
- Provide research on human health impacts related to climate change and adaptation
- Raise awareness and create new partnerships to advance key areas of health research and knowledge development on human health effects of climate change
- Serve as an authoritative source of information on human health effects of climate change for NIEHS stakeholders, including the public
- Represent NIEHS science in climate change research and policy activities at the NIH, HHS, federal government, and international levels
New Health Care Resilience Guide
All over the country, American communities depend on hospitals to provide essential services – at all times and under every possible circumstance. As part of the President's Climate Action Plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is releasing a voluntary climate resilience guide for health care providers, design professionals, policymakers, and others to promote continuity of care before, during, and after extreme weather events. The new guide, "Primary Protection: Enhancing Health Care Resilence for a Changing Climate" addresses a wide range of health care facility vulnerabilities and identifies best practices that health care organizations can adopt to improve their climate readiness.
In concert, a group of leaders from the health care industry, professional associations, and other organizations have announced their commitments to using the guide to strengthen the resilience of the health care system in the face of a changing climate. The White House is bringing together many of these leaders to share their experiences and discuss the best ways to move forward. The conversation will include Secretary Burwell, Counselor to the President John Podesta, and Dr. Holdren, President Obama's science advisor.
Effects of Climate Change on Children's Health: Session One: Thermal Extremes
MODERATOR: Marcus Sarofim, EPA
Lyndsay Ammon Avalos, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research
• The Impact of Apparent Temperature on Preterm Birth
Julia Gohlke, University of Alabama at Birmingham
• Heat Exposure and Adverse Birth Outcomes across Urban and Rural Environments
Stefanie Sarnat, Emory University
• Warm Season Temperatures and Pediatric Emergency Department Visits in Atlanta, Georgia
Perry Sheffield, Mount Sinai Medical Center
• Thermal Extremes and Children Under a Changing Climate
John Balbus, M.D.
Senior Advisor for Public Health
31 Center Dr
Bethesda, MD 20892
Tel (301) 496-3511
Fax (301) 496-0563
Caroline H. Dilworth, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel (919) 541-7727
Bono Sen, Ph.D.
Tel (919) 541-4692
Kimberly Thigpen Tart, J.D.
Tel (919) 541-5377
Fax (919) 541-2583