Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in Michigan

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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

  • 81 counties already have ragweed pollution; at least 19 counties suffer from both unhealthy smog levels and ragweed.3
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 225,000 kids and 744,000 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 Michigan's state action plan for air pollution

Extreme Heat

  • Nearly 83,000 people live in an area where average summertime temperatures set records, and 8 counties saw record-breaking nighttime temperatures in 2010.5
  • Cities like Detroit are projected to experience nearly 65 days per year above 90°F (32°C) by the end of the century.6
  • By late century, average summer temperatures could spike 7-13°F (4-7°C).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 Michigan's state action plan for extreme heat

Infectious Diseases

  • 28 cases of Dengue Fever were reported between 1995-2005, and 3 counties have a type of mosquito that can transmit the virus (as of 2005).8
  • 830 cases of West Nile virus were reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999-2010.9
  • 728 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 Michigan's state action plan for infectious disease

Drought

  • Temperature increases in the summer will increase the likelihood of drought.11
  • About 42% 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 Michigan's state action plan for drought

Flooding

  • The state has been declared a disaster area 4 times since 2000, due to severe storms and flooding;13 the frequency of extreme rainstorms is projected to jump 50-100% by late century.14
  • Combined sewer overflows are a health risk for nearly 50 communities, including Detroit and Lansing.15 Sewage spills into Lake Michigan are expected to rise 50-120% by end of century.16
  • Extreme rains and rising temperatures can increase risks of harmful, toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes.17

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 Michigan's state action plan for flooding

Extreme Weather

Michigan experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 12 counties and a total of 17 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 26 counties and a total of 55 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 14 counties and a total of 17 broken snowfall records

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

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

Michigan's Climate Adaptation Strategy

Air Pollution:

Michigan's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to expand research and monitoring of air quality threats from climate change.

Michigan's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent increased health threats from worsening air quality:

  • Support and advocate for expanded monitoring of air quality by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE); improve communication between DNRE and local health departments.
  • A review of climate change websites, programs and published literature will be used to generate an annotated bibliography of adaptive strategies, with initial focus on air pollution-related adaptations. The databases will be made available to all local health departments.
  • Michigan's Department of Community Health (MDCH) project staff will review literature from EPA, CDC, and researchers on climate change related health impacts to identify characteristics of populations vulnerable to these health effects, with initial emphasis on air pollution.
  • MDCH project staff will review published work and consult with expert partners to identify information needed to assess health impacts of air pollution, and to determine what information currently in Emergency Response Plans can be adapted for use in these Health Impact Assessments.
  • Asthma and air quality experts will be consulted to identify key factors for vulnerabilities and health risks due to air pollution.
  • Surveillance data sources relevant to assessing vulnerability for air pollution will be identified and characterized as to their suitability in terms of statewide coverage.

Extreme Heat:

Michigan's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures that identify vulnerable populations, improve warning and emergency response systems and conduct outreach and education about the dangers of heat waves.

Michigan climate preparedness strategy includes the following measure to prevent increases in health threats from increased extreme heat days:

  • Develop media/communication plans and materials for public education on heat.
  • Revise heat action levels and improve early warning systems and communications.
  • Incorporate heat events in public health response plans, including establishment of cooling centers, transportation to centers, and provision of air conditioning and emergency power.
  • Conduct surveillance for heat related illness in Michigan.
  • Emergency planning for heat and other events should address ongoing emergency needs for those who are especially vulnerable due to chronic diseases.
  • Identify and organize outreach materials that local health staff can use to communicate issues surrounding heat waves to the public.
  • A review of climate change websites, programs and published literature will be used to generate an annotated bibliography of adaptive strategies, with initial focus on heat-related adaptations. The databases will be made available to all local health departments.
  • Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) project staff will review literature from EPA, CDC, and researchers on climate change related health impacts to identify characteristics of populations vulnerable to these health effects, with initial emphasis on heat.
  • MDCH project staff will review published work and consult with expert partners to identify information needed to assess health impacts of heat events, and to determine what information currently in Emergency Response Plans can be adapted for use in these Health Impact Assessments.
  • Surveillance data sources relevant to assessing vulnerability to heat events will be identified and characterized as to their suitability in terms of statewide coverage.

Infectious Disease:

Michigan'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:

Michigan'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:

Michigan'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:

Michigan'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, flooding, and infectious diseases.
  • Plans to ensure the security of food and public health infrastructure to prevent disruption in food supply and availability of health care services.

Find out more

  1. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. Region: Midwest, 2009.
  2. Union of Concerned Scientists. Great Lakes Communities and Ecosystems at Risk: Climate Change in Michigan, 2009.
  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. Union of Concerned Scientists. Great Lakes Communities and Ecosystems at Risk: Climate Change in Michigan, 2009.
  7. Ibid.
  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. U.S. Global Change Research Program.Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S.Region: Midwest, 2009.
  12. Natural Resources Defense Council. Climate Change, Water, and Risk, 2010.
  13. Federal Emergency Management Agency. DHS. Declared Disasters by Year or State, 2011.
  14. Union of Concerned Scientists. Great Lakes Communities and Ecosystems at Risk: Climate Change in Michigan, 2009.
  15. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Report to Congress: Impacts and Control of CSOs and SSOs. Appendix D: List of Active CSO Permits, 2004.
  16. Patz JA, et al. [2008]. Climate change and waterborne disease risk in the Great Lakes region of the U.S.Am J Prev Med35(5): 451-458.
  17. Natural Resources Defense Council. Tides of Trouble: Increased Threats to Human Health and Ecosystems from Harmful Algal Blooms, 2010.

Michigan's Changing Climate

  • Average temperatures, rainfall, record floods, and extreme heat are all on the rise.1
  • In the future, with climate change, temperatures will increase and the state will begin to feel more like Arkansas in the summer.2
  • Residents will experience greater health risks from increasing dangerous heat waves, storms and flooding, waterborne illnesses, infectious diseases, declining air quality, and drought.
  • Michigan has a strategy to prepare for the health impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Health Threats in Michigan

last revised 5/29/2011

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