Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in Texas

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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:

  • 30 counties have ragweed pollution and 22 counties have unhealthy smog levels; at least 5 counties suffer from both.3
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 633,100 kids and 1,286,700 adults.4
  • Smoke pollution will increase as wildfires become more frequent; in 2011 fires scorched hundreds of thousands of acres across the state.

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

Extreme Heat

  • Regions are particularly vulnerable to heat waves; 11 counties saw record-breaking nighttime temperatures in the summer of 2010.5
  • With climate change, summer temperatures could increase by 3-7°F (2-4°C) with rises in the July heat index of 10-25°F (6-14°C).6
  • Some parts could see more than five times the number 100°F (38°C) days by late century -- nearly 100 days per year.7
  • The number of heat-related deaths in Dallas could more than double with a 3°F (2°C) increase in summer temperatures.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

Infectious Diseases

  • An estimated 6,186 cases of Dengue Fever were reported between 1995-2005, most of these in the dengue-vulnerable Texas-Mexico border region. 110 Texas counties have mosquitoes that can transmit the virus (as of 2005).9
  • 2,175 cases of West Nile virus were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999-2010.10
  • 1,468 cases of Lyme disease were reported to CDC between 1990-2008.11

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.
  • Eliminate, drain, clean, or treat the containers, trash, or tires that can hold standing water and act as habitat where immature mosquitoes develop.

Find out more about the effects of infectious diseases

Drought

  • About 98% of the state's counties now face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of climate change.12
  • Parts of the state are likely to see limitations on water availability as demand exceeds supply by 2050.13
  • Dry conditions fuel out-of-control wildfires that could increase in western regions 54% by 2050.14

Protect your family from droughts:

Find out more about the effects of drought

Flooding

  • The coasts are extremely vulnerable to coastal flooding and storm surge -- sea levels are could rise 17 inches by mid century.15
  • The state has been declared a disaster area 14 times since 2000, due to hurricanes, other severe storms, and flooding that cost billions of dollars in damages.16

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

Extreme Weather

Texas experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 127 counties and a total of 327 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 38 counties and a total of 46 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 14 counties and a total of 18 broken snowfall records
  • Extreme drought
  • Record-breaking wildfires

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

  1. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. Regions: Great Plains and Southwest, 2009.
  2. Defenders of Wildlife. Global Warming and Texas, 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. Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Region: Texas, 2001.
  7. Union of Concerned Scientists. Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Region: Texas, 2001.
  8. Union of Concerned Scientists. Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Region: Texas, 2001.
  9. Natural Resources Defense Council. Fever Pitch, 2009.
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile virus Statistics, Surveillance, and Control Archive.
  11. Total Lyme Cases Reported by CDC 1990-2008. Data compiled from CDC pub data (MMWR). Lyme Disease Association, 2009.
  12. Natural Resources Defense Council. Climate Change, Water, and Risk, 2010.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Spracklen DV, et al. Impacts of climate change from 2000 to 2050 on wildfire activity and carbonaceous aerosol concentrations in the western United States, 2009;J Geophys Res 114, D20301, doi:10.1029/2008JD010966.
  15. Union of Concerned Scientists. Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Region: Texas, 2001
  16. Federal Emergency Management Agency. DHS. Declared Disasters by Year or State, 2011.

Texas's Changing Climate

  • Average temperatures are already increasing, along with the frequency of extreme heat droughts, wildfires, and unhealthy air days.1
  • In the future, with climate change, temperatures could increase by 6°F (3°C)2 by late century.
  • Residents will face greater risks from dangerous heat, declining air quality, extensive flooding, especially on the coasts, and water shortages inland.
  • Texas does not have a statewide plan to prepare for the health impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Health Threats in Texas

last revised 5/29/2011

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