Several faculty and students of the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health – Indianapolis contributed to “Hoosiers’ Health in a Changing Climate: A Report from the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment“, one of nine reports being developed as part of the ongoing Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (IN CCIA).
An effort led by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC), the IN CCIA is providing the latest scientific research to help Hoosiers understand and prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. More than 100 experts from Indiana-based institutions are working together to develop a series of reports showing how a changing climate will affect state and local interests.
The health report, released in early April, is in collaboration with the IN CCIA Health Working Group, and includes several FSPH faculty and students: Ms. Karen Comer, PhD student in health policy and management (HPM); Dr. Stephen Jay, professor emeritus in HPM; Dr. Max Jacobo Moreno-Madrinan, assistant professor in environmental health science (EHS); Mr. Jeremy Prather, EHS alumnus; and Dr. Yi Wang, assistant professor in EHS.
According to the health report, Indiana’s changing climate will result in higher temperatures, longer heat waves, more extremely hot days and more frequent, extreme storm events – changes that will affect the health of Hoosiers in every part of the state. Indiana is warmer and wetter, posing a number of public health risks, including an increase of mosquitoes, ticks and other illness-spreading insects.
Additionally, the pathways that lead to human health impacts are direct and indirect. For example, direct effects might include health impacts that result from hazards like heat stroke from extreme heat or respiratory illnesses from poor air quality. Risks from “tropical” diseases like West Nile and Zika as populations of the insects that can spread these viruses grow, and increased rates of anxiety and depression as a result of coping with the loss of people or property after a severe weather event are examples of indirect effects.
In the Indianapolis Star article, “This is why Hoosiers may soon have to worry about diseases such as malaria and Zika“, the Fairbanks School of Public Health’s founding dean, Dr. Paul Halverson addresses this report, stating that tropical illnesses such as malaria, dengue fever and the Zika virus could be commonplace in Indiana by the end of the century, given its struggling public health environment.
Dean Halverson also spoke with The Herald Bulletin on this report in the article, Indiana faces significant climate challenges, stating that climate change has already impacted the state, bringing more intense rainfall and flooding and more heat events, particularly in cities like Indianapolis.
The IN CCIA team has completed reports on climate and health, and will soon conduct reports on Indiana’s forest and urban ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure, tourism and recreation, water, and energy. To learn more about the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment and to download the full reports, visit the Purdue University website.