Public Health

Public Health and Climate Change


Predicted changes to our climate will directly impact public health. Reducing energy consumption & addressing climate change provides opportunities to create healthier communities reduce greenhouse gas emissions & save money.


Changes in climate will affect community health in many ways:

  • Increased air pollution can contribute to increased rates of  asthma, respiratory disease, heart/lung disease & cancer.
  • Changes in temperature and precipitation can result in longer survival rates for disease carrying mosquitoes, ticks,   fleas, and rodents, causing an increase in Lyme disease, Hantavirus, malaria, etc.
  • Rising water temperatures and extended warm seasons can lead to water and food-borne diseases, including cholera, salmonella, and cryptosporidiosis.
  • Extreme weather events due to climate change could adversely affect cities and towns:
  • Increased severity and frequency of heat waves will cause increases in heat stress, heat strokes, and associated heat related deaths.
  • Increased severity and frequency of heavy rains will bring flood destruction, which leads to contaminated food and water, mold and mildew, lack of shelter,   and increased injury, and illness.
  • Severe drought causes increased risk of forest fires, and scarcity of food & water.

The built environment and choices of residents can improve health in a community:

– Walking paths and bike accessible trails encourages residents to walk/ride to their destinations. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves the cardiovascular health of the community.


Local government decision makers need to plan and consider necessary changes. Special attention should be paid to populations already effected and at most risk for death and disease, i.e. the elderly and young children.


Cities are including public health elements in their Climate Action Plans and General Plan Updates:


Integrating public health into climate change policy and decisions, such as land use, housing, and air quality, can have great impact and reduce future risks.  Learn more about addressing this issue:

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