There is widespread scientific consensus that the world’s climate is changing. Some of the effects of climate change are likely to include more variable weather, heat waves, heavy precipitation events, flooding, droughts, more intense storms such as hurricanes, sea level rise, and air pollution. Each of these changes has the potential to negatively affect health.
Climate change has the potential to impact health in many ways. While some of these are unpredictable, others (shown in the table) are supported by considerable evidence.
|Weather Event||Health Effects||Populations Most Affected|
|Heat waves||Heat stress||Extremes of age, athletes, people with respiratory disease|
|Extreme weather events,(rain, hurricane, tornado, flooding)||Injuries, drowning||Coastal, low-lying land dwellers, low socio-economic sector|
|Droughts, floods, increased mean temperature||Vector-, food- and water-borne diseases||Multiple populations at risk|
|Sea-level rise||Injuries, drowning, water and soil salinization, ecosystem and economic disruption||Coastal, low socio-economic sector|
|Drought, ecosystem migration||Food and water shortages, malnutrition||Low socio-economic sector, elderly, children|
|Extreme weather events, drought||Mass population movement, international conflict||General population|
|Increases in ground-level ozone, airborne allergens, and other pollutants||Respiratory disease exacerbations (COPD, asthma, allergic rhinitis, bronchitis)||Elderly, children, those with respiratory disease|
|Climate change generally; extreme events||Mental health||Young, displaced, agricultural sector, low socio-economic sector|
As the nation's public health agency, CDC is using its prevention expertise to address climate change and is preparing for the possibility of health effects related to climate change in the same way it prepares for the possibilities of bioterrorism and pandemic influenza. As part of these efforts, experts are making use of the knowledge and experience gained from previous natural disasters and disease outbreaks.
CDC is uniquely poised to lead efforts to anticipate, prevent and respond to the broad range of effects on the health of Americans and the nation's public health infrastructure. CDC's expertise and programs in environmental health, infectious disease, and other fields form the foundation of public health efforts in preparedness for climate change.
This Public Health Grand Rounds program features nationally distinguished experts from CDC who discuss the case for the potential impact of climate change on the public’s health. Also, they focus on various processes, tools and resources which are currently available, to support efforts to prepare for the affects of climate change in your state or community.