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Your Environment. Your Health.

Climate Change and Human Health

Boy planting little seedling on dry and crack empty land.

Climate and Disasters

  • NIH Disaster Research Response
    DR2 is the national framework for research on the medical and public health aspects of disasters and public health emergencies.
  • Hurricanes & Floods 
    These resources are aimed at protecting the health and safety of those responding to the aftermath of a hurricane or a flood, including emergency responders, skilled support personnel, homeowners, and business owners.
  • Mold Exposure 
    Mold Cleanup and Treatment orientation for workers, volunteers, and homeowners who engage in small-scale mold cleanup and treatment of flooded or water-damaged homes.
  • Wildfires 
    Resources and training in support of wildfire response operations in the United States.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms
    A harmful algal bloom (HAB) occurs when toxin-producing algae grow excessively in a body of water.

A changing climate affects human health and wellbeing. U.S. and world health organizations have said that climate change is a critical public health challenge. The effects of climate change worsen many existing illnesses, diseases and conditions, by increasing exposure to increased temperatures, introducing new pests and pathogens, and impairing air quality and water resources.1 As the planet warms, oceans expand and sea level rises, floods and droughts become more frequent and intense, and heat waves and hurricanes become more severe. Certain populations— including children, the elderly, the poor, and those with underlying health conditions—are at increased risk for health impacts from climate change.2 Climate-related events can also stress health care infrastructure and delivery systems.3

Immediate actions can be taken to lessen the effects of climate change (also known as mitigation) and to build resilience to reduce the impact on health and the health of future generations (also known as adaptation). Many of these actions can yield benefits for health, the environment, economy, and society at the same time.4 The federal government has called for efforts to support mitigation and adaptation of climate change to create healthier, more sustainable communities. The goals of the NIEHS Climate Change and Human Health Program align with these efforts.

Goals of the NIEHS Climate Change and Human Health Program

  • Identify and understand research gaps and create opportunities to address them
  • Provide and fund research on human health impacts related to climate change and adaptation
  • Raise awareness and create new partnerships to advance knowledge on human health effects of climate change
  • Represent NIEHS science in climate change research and policy activities at the NIH, HHS, federal government, and international levels
  • Serve as an authoritative source of information on human health effects of climate change for NIEHS stakeholders, including the public

Climate Change and Human Health Fact Sheet

While climate change is a global process, it has both local and regional impacts on communities. Every American may experience the effects of climate change at some point in their lives, and certain groups may be at higher risk. NIEHS leads and coordinates NIH efforts to better understand how climate change affects people’s health.

New Climate Change Funding Available

Climate Change and Human Health Literature Portal

Climate Change word cloud

Explore the Climate Change and Human Health Literature Portal, an integrated, curated bibliographic database of more than 14,500 global peer-reviewed research and gray literature on the science of climate impacts on human health.

Climate Change and Human Health Literature Portal
  1. Ebi K.L, Balbus JM, Luber G, Bole A, Crimmins A, Glass G, Saha S, Shimamoto MM, Trtanj J, and White-Newsome JL. 2018: Human Health. In Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II [Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 539–571. doi: 10.7930/NCA4. 2018. CH14. [Full Text Ebi K.L, Balbus JM, Luber G, Bole A, Crimmins A, Glass G, Saha S, Shimamoto MM, Trtanj J, and White-Newsome JL. 2018: Human Health. In Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II [Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 539–571. doi: 10.7930/NCA4. 2018. CH14.]
  2. Balbus JM, Malina C. Identifying vulnerable subpopulations for climate change health effects in the United States. J Occup Environ Med. 2009 Jan;51(1):33-7. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318193e12e. [Abstract Balbus JM, Malina C. Identifying vulnerable subpopulations for climate change health effects in the United States. J Occup Environ Med. 2009 Jan;51(1):33-7. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318193e12e.]
  3. Curtis S, Fair A, Wistow J, Val DV, Oven K. Impact of extreme weather events and climate change for health and social care systems. Environ Health. 2017 Dec 5;16(Suppl 1):128. doi: 10.1186/s12940-017-0324-3. [Abstract Curtis S, Fair A, Wistow J, Val DV, Oven K. Impact of extreme weather events and climate change for health and social care systems. Environ Health. 2017 Dec 5;16(Suppl 1):128. doi: 10.1186/s12940-017-0324-3.]
  4. Scovronick N, Budolfson M, Dennig F, Errickson F, Fleurbaey M, Peng W, Socolow RH, Spears D, Wagner F. The impact of human health co-benefits on evaluations of global climate policy. Nat Commun. 2019 May 7;10(1):2095. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09499-x. [Abstract Scovronick N, Budolfson M, Dennig F, Errickson F, Fleurbaey M, Peng W, Socolow RH, Spears D, Wagner F. The impact of human health co-benefits on evaluations of global climate policy. Nat Commun. 2019 May 7;10(1):2095. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09499-x.]
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