Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in Arizona

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Ozone Smog and Allergenic Ragweed Occurrence   >= 1 unhealthy ozone days/yr (2002-2006)   Both ragweed and ozone present and >= 1 unhealthy ozone days/yr (2002-2006)   Ragweed present only   Neither or missing data
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Average Number, Summer Days Per Year of Extreme Heat, 2000-2009   <= 9.0   9.1 - 13.8 (More than expected)   > 13.8 (More than expected)   Insufficient data in county
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Dengue Fever Vulnerability, 1995-2005 data   Areas vulnerable to dengue fever infection   Counties reporting positive for one or both dengue mosquito vector species, as of 2005   No mosquito vectors reported as of 2005
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2000-2009 Averages, Number of Days Per Year of Extreme Low Flow by Watershed   < 15   15 - 33   > 33   Insufficient flow data
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2000-2009 Averages, Number of Days Per Year of Extreme High Flow by Watershed   < 15   15 - 23   > 23   Insufficient flow data
Floodwatch Stations Number of Days Above Flood Stage Per Year < 1 1 - 10 > 10
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Extreme Weather Events
Record Rainfall
Record temperature
Extreme drought
Record Snowfall
Wildfire
Extreme flooding
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Air Pollution

Many people are facing a double whammy of air quality threats that will worsen with climate change:

  • 7 counties have ragweed pollution; Maricopa County suffers from both unhealthy smog levels and ragweed.4
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 161,000 kids and 463,000 adults.5
  • Smoke pollution will compromise air quality as wildfires become more frequent.6

Protect your family from air pollution:

  • Check news reports on the radio, TV, or online for pollen reports or daily air quality conditions. Or visit EPA's Air Now for air quality info and avoid outdoor activity on bad air days particularly for people with asthma or other respiratory diseases.
  • After spending time outdoors, wash off pollen that may have collected on your face, skin, or hair.

Find out more about the effects of air pollution

Extreme Heat

  • Several stations in south central Arizona reported average temperatures in summer 2010 that were among the 5 hottest ever recorded.7
  • In Phoenix, the number of hours per summer day that the temperature exceeds 100°F has doubled in the last 50 years.8
  • Heat-related deaths are the highest of any state -- at 3-7 times the national average.9

Protect your family from extreme heat:

  • Limit exertion during heat waves and high temperature days, drink plenty of water and take cool showers or baths, and stay inside or in the shade.
  • Check on elderly or at-risk friends or neighbors regularly -- or ask someone to look in on you if you feel vulnerable to heat.

Find out more about the effects of extreme heat

Infectious Diseases

  • 19 cases of Dengue Fever were reported between 1995-2005, and 10 counties have a type of mosquito that can transmit the virus (as of 2005).10
  • 1,061 cases of West Nile virus were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999-2010.11
  • 66 cases of Lyme disease were reported to CDC between 1990-2008.12

Protect your family from infectious diseases:

  • When planning international travel, check with the CDC's website for information on recent disease outbreaks and take appropriate precautions.
  • During mosquito season at home, apply insect repellent with 20-30 percent DEET in the mornings and early evenings.

Find out more about the effects of infectious diseases

Drought

  • Water levels dropped 2/3 in Lake Powell, a Colorado River reservoir, from 2000-2005. It's currently only half full.13
  • About 93% of counties face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century, and some areas will likely see limitations on water availability as demand exceeds supply by 2050.14
  • Dry conditions fuel out-of-control wildfires that could increase in western states 54% by 2050.15
  • In 2002, the largest fires in the state's history burned through nearly 470,000 acres and cost $28 million.16

Protect your family from droughts:

Find out more about the effects of drought

Flooding

  • Warmer temperatures in the winters could cause more precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow in mountain regions -- raising stream flows and potential for floods.17
  • Major disasters have been declared in the state 7 times since 2000, due to flooding and severe storms.18

Protect your family from floods and related illnesses:

  • Familiarize yourself with your region's vulnerability to flooding and its local emergency evacuation plans.
  • Prepare your own plan -- including where your family will stay in case of flooding and what you'll do if a relative is sickened by contaminated water.

Find out more about the effects of flooding

Extreme Weather

Arizona experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 7 counties and a total of 20 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 7 counties and a total of 19 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 2 counties and a total of 5 broken snowfall records
  • Extreme drought
  • Record-breaking wildfires

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

  1. Natural Resources Defense Council. Hotter and Drier: The West's Changed Climate, 2008.
  2. Ibid.
  3. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S., Southwest region, 2009.
  4. Natural Resources Defense Council. Sneezing and Wheezing, 2007.
  5. American Lung Association. Estimated Prevalence and Incidence of Lung Disease, 2010.
  6. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S., 2009.
  7. Natural Resources Defense Council. The Worst Summer Ever? 2010.
  8. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S., 2009.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Natural Resources Defense Council. Fever Pitch, 2009.
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile virus Statistics, Surveillance, and Control Archive.
  12. Lyme Disease Association. Total Lyme Cases Reported by CDC 1990-2008. Data compiled from CDC pub data (MMWR), 2009.
  13. Natural Resources Defense Council. Hotter and Drier: The West's Changed Climate, 2008.
  14. Natural Resources Defense Council. Climate Change, Water, and Risk, 2010.
  15. Spracklen DV, et al. Impacts of climate change from 2000 to 2050 on wildfire activity and carbonaceous aerosol concentrations in the western United States, 2009.
  16. Natural Resources Defense Council. Hotter and Drier: The West's Changed Climate, 2008.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Federal Emergency Management Agency. DHS. Declared Disasters by Year or State, 2011.

Arizona's Changing Climate

  • Average temperatures are already increasing, along with the frequency of extreme heat, crippling droughts, wildfires, and unhealthy air days.1
  • In the future, with climate change, average temperatures could rise another 6.1°F (3°C) by 2100.2
  • Residents will face greater health risks from water shortages, flooding, dangerous heat waves, and declining air quality.3
  • Arizona has a state climate change action plan, but it does not include a plan to prepare for the health impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Health Threats in Arizona

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last revised 5/26/2011

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