Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in Florida

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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:

  • 57 counties have ragweed pollution and 4 counties have unhealthy smog levels; Orange, Sarasota, and Escambia counties suffer from both.2
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 377,000 kids and 943,900 adults.3

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

See more about Florida's state action plan for air pollution

Extreme Heat

  • Nearly 1.2 million people live in the 9 counties where average summertime temperatures set records in 2010.4
  • 8 counties also saw record-breaking nighttime temperatures.5
  • With climate change, summer temperatures could increase by 3-7°F (2-4°C), with rises in the July heat index of 10-25°F (6-14°C).6

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

See more about Florida's state action plan for extreme heat

Infectious Diseases

  • 148 cases of Dengue Fever were reported between 1995-2005, and 66 counties have a type of mosquito that can transmit the virus (as of 2005). In 2009, Key West reported 22 cases, the state's first locally transmitted cases in more than 40 years,7 and more cases have been reported since then.
  • 220 cases of West Nile virus were reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999-2010.8
  • 846 cases of Lyme disease were reported to CDC between 1990-2008.9

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

See more about Florida's state action plan for infectious disease

Drought

  • About 96% of the state's counties now face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of climate change.10
  • Parts of the state are likely to see limitations on water availability as demand exceeds supply by 2050.11

Protect your family from droughts:

  • Visit EPA's WaterSense for tips on conserving water, such as replacing leaky pipes.
  • Agricultural water users can find conservation options with a local Cooperative Extension Service agent, or the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Find out more about the effects of drought

See more about Florida's state action plan for drought

Flooding

  • Sea level is a critical concern -- a rise of just 3-6 inches would jeopardize cities' infrastructure and water supplies -- especially in Southeast Florida.12
  • The state has been declared a disaster area 19 times since 2000, due to damage from hurricanes, storm surge, heavy rains, and flooding.13
  • Changing rainfall washes nutrients into waterways and can increase risks of harmful, toxic algal blooms in the Gulf, which threatens the safety of seafood and the ocean for people.14

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

See more about Florida's state action plan for flooding

Extreme Weather

Florida experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 20 counties and a total of 34 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 22 counties and a total of 27 broken rainfall records
  • Extreme drought

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

See more about Florida's state action plan for extreme weather

Florida's Climate Adaptation Strategy

Air Pollution:

Florida's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent health threats from worsening air quality due to climate change:

  • Ensure that air quality policies provide an adequate level of safety to protect against known risks under the current climate.
  • Ensure that new air quality policies incorporate potential changes in risks from climate change to ensure appropriate design and adequate mitigation factors.
  • Improve projections of potential public health risks from the interaction of increasingly intense and long heat waves with existing air-quality problems in major urban areas.

Extreme Heat:

Florida's climate preparedness strategy only addresses the interaction of heat waves and existing air-quality problems in major urban areas and does not describe other measures to protect public health from extreme heat.

Florida's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measure to prevent increases in health threats from increased extreme heat days due to climate change:

  • Improve projections of potential public health risk from the interaction of increasingly intense and long heat waves with existing air-quality problems in major urban areas.

Infectious Disease:

Florida's climate preparedness strategy includes measures to research and assess increased health threats from infectious diseases due to climate change.

Florida's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent increased health threats from infectious diseases as a result of climate change:

  • Assess the potential in Florida for increases in the transmission of vector-borne infectious diseases (e.g. dengue, malaria, yellow fever) resulting from the spread of vectors from other climate change affected areas.
  • Increase the focus of medical schools at state universities to include diseases that can be attributed to climate change.
  • Promote the research and development of biopharmaceuticals for treating disease that can be attributed to climate change.

Drought:

In Florida's climate preparedness strategy, drought is identified as a health-related impact of climate change, but no preparedness measures are proposed.

Flooding:

Florida's climate preparedness strategy only addresses the potential for flooding to damage drinking water infrastructure and does not describe other measures to protect public health from extreme heat.

Florida's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measure to prevent increased health threats from infectious diseases as a result of climate change:

  • Ensure that water treatment facilities are able to safely capture, store, treat, and distribute potable water as the climate changes, creating possible subsequent changes in rainfall patterns, sea level rise, and flooding.

Extreme Weather:

Florida's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to address increased health threats from an increase in extreme weather events due to climate change:

  • Measures to protect public health from the increasing threat of extreme heat, storms, floods, wildfires, and increased risk of infectious diseases.
  • In addition, the strategy recognizes the increased risk of vector-borne diseases. Florida's climate preparedness strategy aims to promote the research and development of biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of diseases that can be attributed to climate change.

Find out more

  1. Union of Concerned Scientists. Gulf Coast's Ecological Heritage at Risk: Florida, 2009.
  2. Natural Resources Defense Council. Sneezing and Wheezing, 2007.
  3. American Lung Association. Estimated Prevalence and Incidence of Lung Disease, 2010.
  4. Natural Resources Defense Council. The Worst Summer Ever? 2010.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Union of Concerned Scientists. Gulf Coast's Ecological Heritage at Risk: Florida, 2009.
  7. Natural Resources Defense Council. Fever Pitch, 2009.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile virus Statistics, Surveillance, and Control Archive:http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/surv&control.htm
  9. Lyme Disease Association. Total Lyme Cases Reported by CDC 1990-2008. Data compiled from CDC pub data (MMWR), 2009.
  10. Natural Resources Defense Council. Climate Change, Water, and Risk, 2010.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions. Florida Atlantic University. Southeast Florida's resilient water resources, 2009.
  13. Federal Emergency Management Agency. DHS. Declared Disasters by Year or State, 2011.
  14. Natural Resources Defense Council. Tides of Trouble: Increased Threats to Human Health and Ecosystems from Harmful Algal Blooms, 2010.

Florida's Changing Climate

  • Average winter rainfall has increased, while average summer rainfall has decreased, and storms have become more frequent.1
  • With climate change, residents can expect to see more public health risks from storms, flooding and waterborne illnesses, infectious diseases like dengue fever, drought, extreme heat waves, and declining air quality.
  • Florida has a strategy to prepare for the health impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Health Threats in Florida

last revised 5/26/2011

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