Expert scientific panel releases national assessment of climate change and health in the United States: impact could be far-reaching

A research team composed of health scientists from academia, government, and private industry has released its assessment on climate change health impacts in the United States. The report makes clear that if the United States is to be prepared to meet the increased health challenges posed by global climate change, it must improve the nations public health infrastructure, better protect vulnerable populations, and increase research efforts to fill crucial knowledge gaps about the connections between climate and health.

The assessment, mandated by Congress and sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was led jointly by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It identifies and examines five key problems influenced by current weather extremes, or future global climate change: heat-related illness and death; health effects related to extreme weather events; health effects related to air pollution; water-borne and food-borne diseases; and vector-borne and rodent-borne diseases. Six papers that buttress the report released earlier this year appear in a special May supplement issue of the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives.

"This assessment is not one of doom and gloom, but does warrant concern within the public health community," said Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and co-chair of the assessment. "Our group found that while much of the U.S. population is relatively protected against climatic hazards, there remain vulnerable segments of the population at risk." Among these groups are the poor, the elderly, children, and those whose immune systems are compromised by disease.

Patz emphasized that a unique cross-section of academic, government, and industry scientists was involved in writing the report. "The author team was chosen both for exper

Contact: Tim Parsons or Ming Tai
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

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