Human Health

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5.2.2.e

Climate Change and Human Health including air quality, diseases, heat stress.

 

 

 

Health Canada has identified eight significant health concerns related to climate change.
1. Temperature-related illnesses (heat and cold-caused illness, heart and lung conditions, occupational health risks)
2. Health effects of extreme weather (injuries and illness, damaged public health services, population displacement, occupational health hazards, mental and social stress due to weather disasters)
3. Air-pollution related effects (Asthma and other respiratory diseases, heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular disease, changed exposure to pollutants and allergens both indoors and outdoors, cancer)
4. Health effects from water and food-borne contamination (diarrhea/poisoning by hemical or biological contaminants)
5. Diseases in new climate zones (changed patterns of diseases caused by bacteria and viruses carried by mosquitoes, ticks and other carrier species)
6. Health effects from ultraviolet light exposure (skin damage and skin cancer, cataracts, disturbed immune systems)
7. Increased vulnerability in certain population segments (seniors, children, chronically ill people, low-income and homeless people, northern residents, disabled people, people living off the land)
8. Impacts on community health and well-being (loss of income and productivity, social disruption, increased costs for health care, health effects of mitigation technologies [e.g., use of pesticides in water to kill mosquitoes], diminished quality of life).

Source: CANADA’S HEALTH CONCERNS FROM CLIMATE CHANGE AND VARIABILITY http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/ccho/health_story_table.htm

Present health departments are aware of these issues as existing health risks. The key climate change-health issues can be summarized as temperature extremes, extreme weather events, vector and rodent-borne diseases, air quality including indoor environments, UV radiation, and water and food borne diseases.

The government of Canada has established a Climate Change and Health Office (CCHO) to help Canadians better understand the health impacts of climate change. The CCHO works in collaboration with researchers across Canada and provides advice to health care partners in provinces, territories and communities.

Studying what to do to meet the impacts of climate change is important. Research and preparations to undertake adaptations of the present system are needed. See 6.2.2e for future strategies that focus on assessment of risk, preparedness and adaptation to meet the challenges of change.

ACTIVITY 1
Chose any of the issues listed. Research it and visit your local health unit.

WEB Links and resources

Canada Climate Change and Health Office
www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/ccho/

Canadian Public Health Association Health Effects of Climate Change and Air Pollution
www.ccah.cpha.ca/effects.htm

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
www.cape.ca

University of Western Ontario Ecosystem Health Program Global Climate Change and Health
www.med.uwo.ca/ecosystemhealth/resources/enviroandhealth.htm

Temperature extremes

The temperature graph below helps put Ontario into context for the global picture as a region of Canada. Departures from the average mean are used as a method of measuring change.

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