As world leaders convened in Washington, DC last week for the Climate Action 2016 summit, a new report released by Maryland public health leaders, the Maryland Climate and Health Profile report, details the impacts of climate change on the health of Marylanders now and in the future.
Developed by the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the report examines the relationship between exposure to extreme weather events and risk of selected health outcomes including food and waterborne illnesses (caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter), hospitalization for heart attacks and asthma, and motor vehicle accidents. Using historical climate data along with health data, researchers were able to describe relationships between exposure to extreme events and risk of these selected diseases. These data, along with the climate projections, were used to calculate health burdens among Marylanders in future decades.
In addition, the report recommends actions that individuals, families, and communities can take to minimize the negative health burdens. It describes how the negative health burdens are not equally distributed across race/ethnicity or geographical areas of Maryland. The report concludes that local and state level strategies to build healthy and resilient communities must take into account these differential burdens.
Key findings of the Maryland Climate and Health Profile report include:
According to the report, the increases in frequency of extreme weather events during summer months in the future (2040) are projected to result in higher rates of asthma and heart attack hospitalization as well as Salmonella infections. The magnitude of these increases will likely vary considerably across the 24 counties in Maryland.
The Maryland Climate and Health Profile report is based on and developed in conjunction with the DHMH Maryland Public Health Strategy for Climate Change project, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of its Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative. Research studies led by Dr. Amir Sapkota in the UMD School of Public Health informed many of the report’s key findings. This Climate and Health Profile report summarizes a collaborative effort between the DHMH, local health departments, and the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. The report utilized the CDC’s Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework to identify vulnerable populations and use this data to inform interventions and increase resilience.