Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in Oregon

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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:

  • 17 counties have ragweed pollution.3
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 81,700 kids and 250,900 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 Oregon's state action plan for air pollution

Extreme Heat

  • In 2009, a heat wave scorched the Pacific Northwest, breaking records when temperatures topped 100°F (38°C).

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 Oregon's state action plan for extreme heat

Infectious Diseases

  • 90 cases of Dengue Fever were reported in Oregon between 1995-2005.5
  • 132 cases of West Nile virus were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999-2010.6
  • 259 cases of Lyme disease were reported to CDC between 1990-2008.7

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 Oregon's state action plan for infectious disease

Drought

  • About 50% of the state's counties now face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of climate change.8
  • Eastern and central parts of the state are likely to see limitations on water availability by 2050, as demand exceeds supply.9
  • Drier, hotter conditions will fuel more out-of-control forest fires across the state.10

Protect your family from droughts:

Find out more about the effects of drought

See more about Oregon's state action plan for drought

Flooding

  • Communities along the coast -- including some with the state's largest populations -- are threatened by rising sea levels.11
  • Combined sewer overflows are a health risk for 3 communities, including Portland.12
  • The state has been declared a disaster area 5 times since 2000, due to severe storms and flooding.13
  • Changing rainfall washes nutrients into waterways and, along with rising temperatures, can increase risks of harmful, toxic algal blooms that threaten people's health.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 Oregon's state action plan for flooding

Extreme Weather

Oregon experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 4 counties and a total of 5 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 13 counties and a total of 22 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 3 counties and a total of 3 broken snowfall records

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

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

Oregon's Climate Adaptation Strategy

Air Pollution:

Oregon's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to address forest fire emission-related vulnerabilities.

  • Oregon recommends developing short- and medium-term climate change adaptation strategies for fire-prone habitats, especially at the urban-wildland interface.
  • Improve public health agencies' capacity to plan for and respond to risks of wildfire emergencies.

Extreme Heat:

Oregon's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to respond to heat waves, and improve delivery of information on cooling center, especially for isolated and vulnerable populations.

Infectious Disease:

Oregon's strategy to prepare for climate change includes monitoring, detection, and control measures for insects that can carry climate change-related illnesses, and wildlife diseases that can also affect humans.

  • Increased outreach and community education about disease prevention measures.

Drought:

Oregon's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to improve capacity to provide technical assistance and incentives to increase storage capacity during times of drought.

Flooding:

Oregon's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to inventory past flood conditions and map future flood conditions.

Extreme Weather:

Oregon'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, flood events, droughts, storms, and wildfires.
  • Strategies to protect public health from potential food scarcity issues including encouraging community garden participation and encouraging farmers to plant crops that are climate change tolerable.
  • Measures to combat potential mental health impacts caused by extreme weather events including establishing relationships with community organizations to distribute disaster preparedness literature, establishing tracking and early warning systems, and aiding communities in the development of support groups.

Find out more

  1. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. Region: Northwest, 2009.
  2. University of Washington Climate Impacts Group. The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment, 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. Fever Pitch, 2009.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile virus Statistics, Surveillance, and Control Archive.
  7. Total Lyme Cases Reported by CDC 1990-2008. Data compiled from CDC pub data (MMWR). Lyme Disease Association, 2009.
  8. Natural Resources Defense Council. Climate Change, Water, and Risk, 2010.
  9. Ibid.
  10. The Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework. 2010.
  11. Washington State Department of Ecology. http://www.ecy.wa.gov/climatechange/index.htm
  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.

Oregon's Changing Climate

  • Average temperatures, heavier rainfall, drier summers, bad air days, and sea levels are already increasing.1
  • In the future, with climate change, temperatures could rise another 3.2°F (2°C) by the 2040s, and 5.3°F (3.3°C) by the 2080s.2
  • Residents will likely face more frequent very hot days, water shortages, increased drought, declining air quality in urban areas, coastal flooding, and infectious illness risks.
  • Oregon has a strategy to prepare for the health impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Health Threats in Oregon

last revised 5/29/2011

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