Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in Maryland

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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:

  • 11 counties -- including the three most populous, Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore -- suffer from unhealthy smog levels.3
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 126,200 kids and 402,200 adults.4

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 Maryland's state action plan for air pollution

Extreme Heat

  • Nearly 2.8 million people live in the 12 counties where average summertime temperatures set records in 2010.5
  • 10 counties also saw record-breaking nighttime temperatures in the summer of 2010.6
  • By the end of the century, summer temperatures are expected to rise about 5-9°F (3-5°C), and the number of 90°F (32°C) days would more than double for some cities.7

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 Maryland's state action plan for extreme heat

Infectious Diseases

  • 49 cases of Dengue Fever were reported between 1995-2005, and 27 counties have a type of mosquito that can transmit the virus (as of 2005).8
  • 195 cases of West Nile virus were reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999-2010.9
  • 15,070 cases of Lyme disease were reported to CDC between 1990-2008.10

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 Maryland's state action plan for infectious disease

Drought

  • Rising temperatures increase the likelihood of water shortages from drought in the summertime.11
  • About 79% of the state's counties now face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of climate change.12

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 Maryland's state action plan for drought

Flooding

  • Sea-level rise and storm surge could jeopardize coastal cities' infrastructure. The Chesapeake Bay region is ranked the 3rd most vulnerable to sea level rise, behind Louisiana and Southern Florida.13
  • Combined sewer overflows are a health risk for nearly 10 communities, including Baltimore.14
  • The state has been declared a disaster area twice since 2000, due to severe storms and flooding.15
  • Changing rainfall washes nutrients into waterways and can increase risks of harmful, toxic algal blooms in Chesapeake Bay which threaten safety for people and aquatic life.

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 Maryland's state action plan for flooding

Extreme Weather

Maryland experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 8 counties and a total of 18 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 8 counties and a total of 16 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 2 counties and a total of 4 broken snowfall records

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

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

Maryland's Climate Adaptation Strategy

Air Pollution:

Maryland's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to address air quality threats by identifying areas most at risk, improving alert and public educations systems, and working to reduce pollutant emissions.

Maryland's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measure to prevent increases in health threats from worsening air quality due to climate change:

  • Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) should work together, along with local jurisdictions, to evaluate the effectiveness of current alert and preparedness systems for poor air quality.
  • Improve air quality by pursuing opportunities to enhance and protect Maryland's "green infrastructure."
  • Monitor, model and create risk maps for areas potentially most affected by air quality.
  • Develop a statewide hazard, exposure, and sensitivity-based vulnerability assessment of air quality.
  • Research the relationship between temperature increases, impervious surfaces, and air quality to increase the understanding of how particulate matter is influenced by temperature increases and changes in precipitation.

Extreme Heat:

Maryland's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to prevent the worsening impacts of extreme heat by evaluating currents threats and vulnerabilities, improving alert systems and increasing the response capacity of vulnerable populations.

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

  • Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Department of Health and Mental
  • Hygiene (DHMH) should work together, along with local jurisdictions, to evaluate the effectiveness of current alert and preparedness systems for heat emergency.
  • Monitor, model and create risk maps for areas potentially most affected by extreme heat.
  • Develop a statewide hazard, exposure, and sensitivity-based vulnerability assessment of extreme heat.
  • Work at the local level with groups potentially vulnerable to extreme heat to establish plans and increase their response capacity.

Infectious Disease:

Maryland's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to identify, track, prevent, and respond to vector-borne and infectious diseases.

Maryland's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent increases in the spread of infectious diseases due to climate change:

The State should work with federal and regional partners to increase the capacity to combat existing and emerging vector-borne and infectious diseases.

  • Monitor, model, and create risk maps for areas potentially most affected by increased pathogens.
  • Develop a statewide hazard, exposure, and sensitivity-based vulnerability assessment of infectious disease.
  • Investigate methods to prevent or reduce vector-borne diseases.

Drought:

Maryland's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures that focus on ensuring adequate water availability during times of drought.

Maryland's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent the health impacts from increased drought due to climate change:

  • The potential increase in duration of drought warrants a revision of current emergency response planning and preventive strategies. For example, the frequency of severe drought or water contamination may lead to a need for establishment of emergency water supply resources.
  • Identify the effects of increases in winter precipitation, more frequent summer drought and greater summer demand for irrigation on water availability.
  • Maryland should continue working to further the understanding of water availability and its relationship to projected climate changes such as the increased frequency of summer drought and winter precipitation.
  • Identify state investment needs to prepare for future weather emergencies, including snow, hurricanes, drought, floods, and other emergencies.

Flooding:

Maryland's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to monitor, model, and create risk maps for areas potentially most affected by flooding.

Maryland's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent the health impacts from increased flooding due to climate change:

  • Monitor, model, and create risk maps for areas potentially most affected by flooding.
  • Develop a statewide hazard, exposure, and sensitivity-based vulnerability assessment of flooding.

Extreme Weather:

Maryland'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 address increased risk of extreme heat, storms, and infectious diseases.
  • Plans to evaluate impacts to food safety and availability to prevent potential interruptions to food availability caused by extreme weather events.

Find out more

  1. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. Region: Northeast, 2009.
  2. Maryland Commission on Climate Change. Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland's Vulnerability to Climate Change, Phase II, 2011.
  3. Natural Resources Defense Council. Sneezing and Wheezing, 2007.
  4. American Lung Association.Estimated Prevalence and Incidence of Lung Disease, 2010.
  5. Natural Resources Defense Council. The Worst Summer Ever? 2010.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Maryland Commission on Climate Change. Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland's Vulnerability to Climate Change, Phase II, 2011.
  8. Natural Resources Defense Council. Fever Pitch, 2009.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile virus Statistics, Surveillance, and Control Archive.
  10. Lyme Disease Association. Total Lyme Cases Reported by CDC 1990-2008. Data compiled from CDC pub data (MMWR), 2009.
  11. Maryland Commission on Climate Change. Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland's Vulnerability to Climate Change, Phase II, 2011.
  12. Natural Resources Defense Council. Climate Change, Water, and Risk, 2010.
  13. Maryland Commission on Climate Change. Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland's Vulnerability to Climate Change, Phase I, 2008
  14. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Report to Congress: Impacts and Control of CSOs and SSOs. Appendix D: List of Active CSO Permits, 2004.
  15. Federal Emergency Management Agency. DHS. Declared Disasters by Year or State, 2011.

Maryland's Changing Climate

  • Average temperatures are increasing, along with extreme heat, storms, summer droughts, and unhealthy air days.1
  • In the future, with climate change, average temperatures are projected to rise another 2.5°F (1°C) by 2025.2
  • Residents will be faced with increased health risks from flooding, waterborne illnesses, infectious diseases, extreme heat, and poor air quality.
  • Maryland has a strategy to prepare for the health impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Health Threats in Maryland

last revised 5/29/2011

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