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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge

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John Balbus, M.D., M.P.H. NIEHS Senior Advisor for Public Health

“The study of how climate change impacts environmental exposures has been relatively neglected,” said John Balbus, M.D., NIEHS senior advisor for public health. “This challenge provided new tools for understanding and responding to developments that may alter human exposure to pollutants and toxins.”

In an effort to help decision makers around the country understand and address potential changes in environmental health risks due to a changing climate, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) sponsored the Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge.

Challenge entries focused on creating data visualization tools and maps that connect current science on climate change to the exposure pathways for environmental hazards, in order to help decision makers and communities identify areas and people at greatest risk and help to prioritize protective actions.

The NIEHS Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge winners were announced on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 in a publicly webcast presentation at the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council meeting. Challenge entries were received from more than 10 institutions and individuals. Tools created included visualizations of such climate and social factors as sea level rise, flooding, high heat, vulnerable communities, and hazardous waste sites, which were overlayed with maps of health outcomes such as mortality, cardiovascular disease, emergency room admissions, and asthma. Submissions were judged by federal and non-federal advisory climate, health, and data experts. Awards were given in two categories: tools for use at the community and local level, and tools for use at a national level. Winning submissions will be incorporated into the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit and disseminated to communities and decision makers.

National Tool Submission Description
First Place Finalist $10,000 Prize
PIE VIZ: Populations, Infrastructures, and Exposures Visualization Tool Developed by a team at Virginia Tech, Pie VIZ combines datasets on power outages, air pollution levels, and extreme heat across the contiguous United States and includes tool incorporates social isolation metrics to allow a to visualize county-level extreme heat and dangerous air pollution days and can select a county to view attributes including numbers of isolated persons.

Tool Link
Local Tool Submission Description
First Place Finalist $10,000 Prize
Effects of Climate Change on the Future of Local Communities in Indianapolis: A Prototype Created by a team at IUPUI, This tool leverages climate and health data in an interactive web portal that displays and communicates potential health and environmental effects of climate change including flooding, extreme heat, and air pollution, on a low income, disadvantaged Indianapolis neighborhood: the Near West Neighborhood.

Tool Link
Second Place Finalist $5,000 Prize
The San Francisco Climate and Health Profile Developed by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, The San Francisco Climate and Health profile is an innovative web-based tool that links climate change projections with their associated health outcomes and identifies populations and locations most vulnerable to these health outcomes. By centralizing and formalizing the collection of neighborhood-level data, the Climate and Health Profile provides neighborhood organizations, city departments, and direct service providers a simple, streamlined way to access information on climate and health.

Tool Link
Up with the Waters: Climate Change, Flooding and Contamination in the River City Developed by a team based at Washington University in St. Louis, Up With the Waters Up With the Waters is a series of maps that help residents identify areas of greatest potential risks of exposure in future flooding events. The tool includes a various maps highlighting the number of St. Louisans that live and work near contamination sites within the floodplain. Visualizations also identify public parks that have high likelihood of becoming contaminated. This tool is intended to help government and land managers prioritize clean-up of the most heavily contaminated and populated areas within the flood plain in order to minimize exposure risks to the people of St. Louis.

Tool Link

Challenge Quick Links

For additional information about the challenge, contact:

John M. Balbus, Senior Advisor for Public Health
John Balbus, M.D., M.P.H.
Senior Advisor for Public Health
Director, NIEHS-WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Sciences
Tel 301-496-3511
Fax 301-496-0563
31 Center Dr
Claude D Pepper Building
Bethesda, MD 20892
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