Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in New York

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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:

  • 37 counties have ragweed pollution and 23 counties have unhealthy smog levels; at least 17 counties suffer from both.2
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 415,900 kids and 1.3 million 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 New York's state action plan for air pollution

Extreme Heat

  • 3 counties saw record-breaking temperatures in the summer of 2010 and 4 experienced record-breaking nighttime temperatures.4
  • Heat-related mortality in the metropolitan New York region is projected to increase 70% by mid-century as temperatures soar.
  • New York City could face 70 days over 90°F (32°C) and 25 days over 100°F (38°C) by late century. Cities like Buffalo could see at least 14 days over 100°F.5

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 New York's state action plan for extreme heat

Infectious Diseases

  • 208 cases of Dengue Fever were reported between 1995-2005, and 11 counties have a type of mosquito that can transmit the virus (as of 2005).6
  • 518 cases of West Nile virus were reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999-2010.7
  • 87,192 cases of Lyme disease were reported to CDC between 1990-2008.8

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 New York's state action plan for infectious disease

Drought

  • Temperature increases in the summer will increase the likelihood of drought.9
  • About 26% of the state's counties now face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of climate change.10

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 New York's state action plan for drought

Flooding

  • Communities are at risk from sea level rise and increasing rainfall -- what was once considered a 100-year flood could occur 10 times as often by mid century.11
  • Combined sewer overflows are a health risk for nearly 70 communities, including New York City and Albany.12
  • The state has been declared a disaster area 15 times since 2000, due to damage from severe storms and flooding.13
  • Changing rainfall and rising temperatures can increase risks of harmful, toxic algal blooms along New York's shorelines and in fresh water bodies.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 New York's state action plan for flooding

Extreme Weather

New York experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 15 counties and a total of 19 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 35 counties and a total of 60 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 14 counties and a total of 19 broken snowfall records
  • Multi-million dollar losses from extreme flooding and hurricane damage
  • Snowiest January on record

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

See more about New York's state action plan for extreme weather

New York's Climate Adaptation Strategy

Air Pollution:

New York's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to expand surveillance of health indicators and monitoring of air quality, and make the information publicly available.

  • Employ smart grid technology, to warn of risk of power outages during high heat and pollution days.
  • Plant low-pollen trees to provide shade without increasing aeroallergens.
  • New York City's PlaNYC will reduce emissions from vehicles and buildings, and promote a more walkable, bikable city.

Extreme Heat:

New York's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to strengthen the ability of local emergency services to respond to heat waves and temperature extremes.

  • New York has projected temperature changes into the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s, under a changing climate; climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of heat waves, with significant increases in heat-related deaths as a result.
  • New York State plans to evaluate its extreme heat response plans and expand access to cooling shelters during extreme heat events.
  • New York City's PlaNYC strategy includes measures to reduce the urban heat island effect and plant one million new trees to help cool the city streets.
  • All flat roofs in New York City will be required to have a "cool coating" -- white or green -- by 2030.

Infectious Disease:

New York's adaptation strategy acknowledges better integration of environmental and health data/ analysis is needed for vector borne disease forecasting.

Drought:

New York State has projected increasing precipitation across much of the state into the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s, under a changing climate. Yet rural areas and smaller towns have less storage capacity to deal with local short-term droughts that will occur.

  • Develop more comprehensive drought management programs that include improved monitoring of water storage supplies, and begin conservation measures when supplies drop below set thresholds.
  • Maintain stockpiles of emergency supplies to help smaller water systems in drought emergencies.
  • New York City's strategy includes a measure to increase water storage capabilities in the face of drought conditions.
  • Only green roofs that use drought-resistant plants are currently eligible for the State green roof tax abatement program/incentive/etc.

Flooding:

New York State's strategies to prepare for climate change identify flooding as a health-related threat due to increasingly frequent extreme storms and sea level rise with climate change, especially for the half-million people that live within 100-year floodplain areas in the state or along the coastline.

  • New York has rainfall and sea level rise projections for the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s, created by its research university climate modelers. Climate change will raise sea level up to 55 inches by the 2080s; the 1-in-100 year flood could reoccur, on average, once every 15 to 35 years.
  • Adapting infrastructure and upgrading combined sewer and stormwater systems to reduce pollution into waterways is critical adaptation step for the State's older cities, like NYC.
  • New York City is working to update its current flood insurance maps to reflect the changing floodplains and sea levels, which have risen 3 inches locally since 1983.

Extreme Weather:

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

  • New York City's climate preparedness strategy includes measures to address the increased risk of floods by improving infrastructure stability.

Find out more

  1. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. Region: Northeast, 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. Union of Concerned Scientists (NECIA). Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: New York, 2007.
  6. Natural Resources Defense Council. Fever Pitch, 2009.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile virus Statistics, Surveillance, and Control Archive.
  8. Total Lyme Cases Reported by CDC 1990-2008. Data compiled from CDC pub data (MMWR). Lyme Disease Association, 2009.
  9. Union of Concerned Scientists (NECIA). Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: New York, 2007.
  10. Natural Resources Defense Council. Climate Change, Water, and Risk, 2010.
  11. Union of Concerned Scientists (NECIA). Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: New York, 2007.
  12. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Report to Congress: Impacts and Control of CSOs and SSOs. Appendix D: List of Active CSO Permits, 2004.
  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.

New York'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, temperatures could increase by 8-12°F (4-7°C) in the winter and 6-14°F (3-8°C) in the summer by late century.
  • Residents will face greater risks from floods, waterborne illnesses, infectious diseases, water shortages, dangerous heat, and declining air quality.
  • New York has a strategy to prepare for the health impacts of climate change. New York City has a strategy to increase resilience of its communities, natural systems and infrastructure to climate risks.

Climate Change Health Threats in New York

last revised 5/29/2011

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