New U.S. Report Advances Knowledge on Health Impacts of Climate Change

The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, a new report by the Obama Administration, significantly advances what we know about the impacts of climate change on public health, and the confidence with which we know it.

The report, jointly conducted by eight different U.S. federal agencies over a span of three years, strengthens and expands understanding of climate-related health impacts by providing a more definitive description of climate-related health burdens in the United States. Participating agencies include:

  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs

The new report builds on the 2014 National Climate Assessment and reviews and synthesizes key contributions to the published literature. It reinforces that climate change is a significant health threat, not just in the future but now. And while all Americans are at risk of these negative health effects, some populations are disproportionately vulnerable, including those with low-income, some communities of color, immigrant groups, indigenous peoples, children and pregnant women, older adults, people with disabilities, and people with pre-existing or chronic medical conditions.

The list of negative human health effects related to climate change continues to grow. Some of the increased health risks identified in the assessment state that:

  • Air pollution and airborne allergens will likely increase, worsening allergy and asthma conditions;
  • Extreme heat can be expected to cause an increase in the number of premature deaths;
  • Warmer winter and spring temperatures are projected to lead to earlier annual onset of Lyme disease in the eastern United States;
  • Cases of water-related illnesses and foodborne illnesses will increase; and
  • Mental health issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and general anxiety will become more common, particularly in areas suffering from the extreme weather events that accompany climate change, such as hurricanes and floods.

This new report delivers on another commitment in the President’s Climate Action Plan.

Learn more about the report from a White House fact sheet.


About Katie Regan

Katie Regan serves as the Communications Specialist for Environmental Health, Pandemic Preparedness, and Catastrophic Response at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices through NACCHO's various storytelling and communications channels. Twitter: @katiejregan

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