Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in Maine

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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:

  • 16 counties have ragweed pollution; at least 7 counties suffer from both unhealthy smog levels and ragweed.3
  • The number of poor air quality days in cities like Augusta could quadruple by late century.4
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 25,900 kids and 106,300 adults.5

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 Maine's state action plan for air pollution

Extreme Heat

  • Temperatures topped 90°F (32°C) for nearly 4 straight days in 2010, which had not happened in some areas for decades.6
  • Eastport in Washington County saw record-breaking nighttime temperatures in the summer of 2010.7
  • Average summertime temperatures could be 7-13°F (4-7°C) higher by late century.8

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 Maine's state action plan for extreme heat

Infectious Diseases

  • 5,070 cases of Lyme disease were reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1990-2008.9
  • 3 cases of Dengue Fever were reported between 1995-2005.10

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 Maine's state action plan for infectious disease

Drought

  • Temperature increases in the summer will increase the likelihood of drought.11
  • About 6% 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 Maine's state action plan for drought

Flooding

  • Sea-level rise and increased precipitation could jeopardize cities' infrastructure. Rainfall is expected to increase 20-30% by late century.13
  • Combined sewer overflows are a health risk for nearly 35 communities, including Portland.14
  • The state has been declared a disaster area 15 times since 2000, due to severe storms and flooding.15

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 Maine's state action plan for flooding

Extreme Weather

Maine experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 7 counties and a total of 14 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 6 counties and a total of 13 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 6 counties and a total of 9 broken snowfall records

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

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

Maine's Climate Adaptation Strategy

Air Pollution:

Maine's strategy to prepare for climate change includes a measure to study and assess increased health threats from worsening air quality due to climate change.

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

  • Review existing data and current research to ensure that climate-related health concerns, such as exacerbation of respiratory symptoms due to increasing temperatures or air pollutant levels are known and understood.

Extreme Heat:

Maine's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to prevent the build-up of extreme heat in urban areas and to track the health impacts of extreme heat.

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

  • Maintain and enhance urban and community forests to offset the urban heat island effect of increased summer temperatures.
  • Indicators for heat-related morbidity and mortality should be constructed as a part of the Maine Center for Disease Control's Environmental Public Health Tracking program.

Infectious Disease:

Maine's strategy to prepare for climate change identifies the spread of infectious diseases as a threat due to climate change but does not include specific measures to address this threat.

Drought:

Maine's strategy to prepare for climate change identifies drought as a health-related threat due to climate change but does not include specific measures to address this threat.

Flooding:

Maine's strategy to prepare for climate change identifies flooding as a health-related threat due to climate change but does not include specific measures to address this threat.

Extreme Weather:

Maine's climate preparedness strategy includes measures to protect public health from the increasing threat of extreme heat, storms, and risk of infectious disease due to extreme weather events caused by climate change.

Find out more

  1. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. Region: Northeast, 2009.
  2. Union of Concerned Scientists (NECIA). Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Maine, 2007.
  3. Natural Resources Defense Council. Sneezing and Wheezing, 2007.
  4. Union of Concerned Scientists (NECIA). Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Maine, 2007.
  5. American Lung Association. Estimated Prevalence and Incidence of Lung Disease, 2010.
  6. Associated Press. Heat wave continues for 4th day across Maine. September, 2010.
  7. Natural Resources Defense Council. The Worst Summer Ever? 2010.
  8. Union of Concerned Scientists (NECIA). Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Maine, 2007.
  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. Fever Pitch, 2009.
  11. Union of Concerned Scientists (NECIA). Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Maine, 2007.
  12. Natural Resources Defense Council. Climate Change, Water, and Risk, 2010.
  13. Union of Concerned Scientists (NECIA). Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Maine, 2007.
  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.

Maine'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 could rise 10-13°F (6-7°C) in the winter and 7-13°F (4-7°C) in the summer by late century.2
  • Residents will be at greater risk for health impacts from deteriorating air quality, dangerous heat-levels, severe floods, water-borne illnesses, drought, and infectious diseases.
  • Maine has a limited strategy to prepare for the health impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Health Threats in Maine

last revised 5/29/2011

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