Emergency Medicine Book


Health Effects of Climate Change

Aka: Health Effects of Climate Change, Global Warming and Adverse Health Impacts
  1. See Also
    1. Disaster Medical Management
  2. Background
    1. Global warming creates significant adverse environmental conditions that impact human health
  3. Adverse Effects: Extreme Heat Exposure and Heat Waves
    1. See Heat Related Illness
    2. Higher risk in urban areas, and for outdoor workers, athletes and low-income households, elderly, homeless
    3. Extreme heat is responsible for up to 1300 deaths per year in U.S.
  4. Adverse Effects: Air Quality
    1. See Outdoor Air Pollutants
    2. Increased Air Pollution, increased ozone concentrations and prolonged pollen seasons with climate change
    3. Increased Asthma Exacerbations and COPD exacerbations
  5. Adverse Effects: Extreme Events - Precipitation Extremes
    1. Droughts
      1. Increased risk of wildfires (see below)
    2. Floods
    3. Hurricanes
    4. Resources
      1. Extreme Precipitation Events (CDC)
        1. https://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/effects/precipitation_extremes.htm
  6. Adverse Effects: Wildfires
    1. See Burn Injury
    2. See Smoke Inhalation Injury
    3. See Outdoor Air Pollutants
    4. Wildfire risk is directly reclated to droughts
    5. Smoke from wildfires contains particulate matter as well as Carbon Monoxide, nitrogen oxides and various other volatile agents
    6. Beyond the danger from the fire itself, air quality is a major concern (see above)
  7. Adverse Effects: Vectorborne Disease
    1. See Vector Borne Disease
    2. Warmer Temperatures have allowed Insect vectors have expanded their range into North America
    3. Longer durations of warm weather, have allowed Insect populations to increase and be active for longer periods
    4. Examples include West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, DengueVirus, ChikungunyaVirus, Lyme Disease
  8. Adverse Effects: Water-Related Illness
    1. See Waterborne Illness
    2. Contaminated water supply (e.g. Cholera) is common during natural disasters (e.g. flooding, hurricanes)
    3. Ocean Bacteria (e.g. Vibrio) increase with ocean Temperature warming
  9. Adverse Effects: Food Safety and Nutrition
    1. Food supply is expected to decrease worldwide due to climate change (decreased crop yields, fish and livestock populations)
    2. Food prices are expected to increase in the face of a growing population
    3. Expected food insecurity and nutrient poor diets with secondary increased risks for both Malnutrition and Obesity
  10. Adverse Effects: Mental Health
    1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other Anxiety Disorders often follow natural disasters (e.g. wildfires, hurricanes)
    2. Mental illness (e.g. Major Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia) are exacerbated by disasters
  11. Resources
    1. Global Warming 101 (NRDC)
      1. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101
    2. Climate Effects on Health (CDC)
      1. https://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/effects/default.htm
    3. Third National Climate Assessment - Human Health
      1. https://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/sectors/human-health
  12. References
    1. Parker (2019) Am Fam Physician 100(10): 618-26 [PubMed]

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