Climate Effects on Health

Climate change impacts a wide-range of health outcomes. The infographic above illustrates the most significant climate change impacts (rising temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and increasing carbon dioxide levels), their effect on exposures, and the subsequent health outcomes that can result from these changes in exposures.

The Oregon Climate and Health Program addresses the health effects of climate change by focusing on developing cross-sectoral partnerships and promoting systems and policy changes that build resilience across a broad range of climate impacts, including extreme heat, extreme cold, wildfire, air quality and respiratory illnesses, flooding, sea level rise, vectorborne diseases, water-borne disease, mental health, drought, harmful algal blooms, and extreme weather events, such and hurricanes and tornadoes. This work primarily serves local and tribal health departments, partner state agencies, community health workers, and other state public health programs, including emergency preparedness, chronic disease prevention, and acute and communicable disease. Some of the program’s activities include developing the public health workforce, informing statewide climate policy and planning, and supporting partners in building social resilience.

Climate change, together with other natural and human-made health stressors, influences human health and disease in numerous ways. Some existing health threats will intensify and new health threats will emerge. Not everyone is equally at risk. Important considerations include age, economic resources, and location.

In the U.S., public health can be affected by disruptions of physical, biological, and ecological systems, including disturbances originating here and elsewhere. The health effects of these disruptions include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in the prevalence and geographical distribution of food- and water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases, and threats to mental health.

For more on the effects of climate change on health in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, visit the CDC page on Regional Health Effects in the Northwest and the Oregon Health Authority links below.

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