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Your Environment. Your Health.

Climate Change & Human Health

 
Global Environmental 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.

 

NIEHS Senior Advisor for Public Health discusses impacts of climate change on human health.

Figure 1: Changes in greenhouse gas concentrations and other drivers change our global climate altering the human; mitigation alters climate and both mitigation and adaptation alter the human environment;  the predominant impact on human health is through environmental changes as a result of climate change although there are direct impacts from both climate changes and mitigation/adaptation.
Figure 1: Changes in greenhouse gas concentrations and other drivers change our global climate altering the human; mitigation alters climate and both mitigation and adaptation alter the human environment; the predominant impact on human health is through environmental changes as a result of climate change although there are direct impacts from both climate changes and mitigation/adaptation.

Goals:

  • 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

Featured Science

Climate Change and Children’s Health Policy Roundup

Children playing in field

Tell us your story! What are you doing in the form of policy actions and programs to protect children’s health against the impacts of climate change? Presidential Task Force on Environmental Health and Safety Risks to Children is gathering examples of policy actions at the Federal, State, Local, and Tribal levels to highlight during national Children’s Health Month in October. Any member of the public is welcome to submit. Compelling stories will be featured on the Task Force website, highlighted at an event during Children’s Health Month, and disseminated across the community of practice to raise awareness, share what’s working, and encourage others to adopt similar policies.

Find Out More

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

Effects of Climate Change on Children's Health

Contacts

John M. Balbus, Senior Advisor for Public Health
John Balbus, M.D.
Senior Advisor for Public Health
31 Center Dr
Claude D Pepper Building
Bethesda, MD 20892

Tel (301) 496-3511
Fax (301) 496-0563
john.balbus@nih.gov

Caroline Dilworth, Ph.D.
Caroline H. Dilworth, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator

Tel (919) 541-7727
dilworthch@niehs.nih.gov
Banalata (Bono) Sen, Ph.D.
Bono Sen, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator

Tel (919) 541-4692
senb@niehs.nih.gov
Kimberly Thigpen Tart, J.D.
Kimberly Thigpen Tart, J.D., M.P.H.
Program Analyst

Tel (919) 541-5377
Fax (919) 541-2583
thigpenk@niehs.nih.gov

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