Climate Change and Your Health

Climate Change Health Threats in Wisconsin

Click a tab to view different climate-health vulnerabilities
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
Learn more about the map content >>
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
Learn more about the map content >>
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
Learn more about the map content >>
2000-2009 Averages, Number of Days Per Year of Extreme Low Flow by Watershed   < 15   15 - 33   > 33   Insufficient flow data
Learn more about the map content >>
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
Learn more about the map content >>
Extreme Weather Events
Record Rainfall
Record temperature
Extreme drought
Record Snowfall
Wildfire
Extreme flooding
Learn more about the map content >>

Air Pollution

Many people are facing a double whammy of air quality threats that will worsen with climate change:

  • All 72 counties have ragweed pollution, and at least 13 of those counties also have unhealthy smog levels.3
  • Asthma sickens an estimated 123,700 kids and 401,500 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 Wisconsin's state action plan for air pollution

Extreme Heat

  • 7 counties saw record-breaking nighttime temperatures in the summer of 2010.5
  • Temperatures over 90°F (32°C) hit the state at least 12 days per year in the southern part of the state and 5 days per year in the north.6
  • The number of days over 90°F (32°C) per year may double in the south and triple in the north by 2050.7

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 Wisconsin's state action plan for extreme heat

Infectious Diseases

  • 50 cases of Dengue Fever were reported between 1995-2005.8
  • 143 cases of West Nile virus were reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999-2010.9
  • 15,463 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 Wisconsin's state action plan for infectious disease

Drought

  • Projected temperature increases in the summer increase the likelihood of drought.11
  • About 43% 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 Wisconsin's state action plan for drought

Flooding

  • Combined sewer overflows are a health risk for the cities of Milwaukee and Superior;13 sewage spills into Lake Michigan are expected to rise 50-120% by end of century.14
  • The state has been declared a disaster area 9 times since 2000, due to severe storms and flooding.15
  • Extreme rains where at least 2'' fall are projected to increase in frequency 25% by 2050.16
  • Changing rainfall washes nutrients into waterways and, along with 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 Wisconsin's state action plan for flooding

Extreme Weather

Wisconsin experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 10 counties and a total of 17 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 18 counties and a total of 22 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 23 counties and a total of 33 broken snowfall records

Protect your family from extreme weather:

Find out more about the effects of extreme weather

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

Wisconsin's Climate Adaptation Strategy

Air Pollution:

Wisconsin's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to track and respond to air quality threats. The city of Milwaukee's plan includes additional measures to reduce current levels of air pollution and improve air quality warning systems.

Wisconsin's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent increases in health threats from worsening air quality:

  • The state should expand activities of the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking to include indicators of air pollution conditions linked to climate variability and change.
  • Targeted outreach to county and city public health departments, school nurses, daycare centers, summer camps, nursing homes, and other facilities about the Wisconsin statewide air quality notification system.

Milwaukee's climate preparedness strategy includes the following additional measures to prevent increases in health threats from worsening air quality:

  • Reduce current air pollution levels by increasing tree canopy, transportation alternatives, and co-generation for power production, and lowering carbon fuels usage.
  • Improve warning system for air quality advisories.

Extreme Heat:

Wisconsin's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to prevent the worsening impacts of extreme heat by improving heat response and early warning systems.

Wisconsin's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent increases in health threats from increased extreme heat days:

  • Incorporate climate change related factors into existing heat response plans and heat early warning systems, particularly when climate models are available at the state and local level.

Infectious Disease:

Wisconsin's strategy to prepare for climate change includes measures to study the relationship between climate factors and the spread of infectious diseases.

Wisconsin's climate preparedness strategy includes the following measures to prevent increases in the spread of infectious diseases due to climate change:

  • Wisconsin is currently in the midst of an ongoing health impact assessment of rainfall variability and water-borne diseases that will eventually inform state adaptation strategies.
  • The assessment will draw upon several recent and ongoing studies, including: precipitation and pathogens in surface water; precipitation and pathogens in groundwater; the link between climate change and gastrointestinal illness; sewer overflows and gastroenteritis; rainfall and gastrointestinal illness; and drinking water transmission of infectious diarrhea.
  • Re-analyze the relationship between Lyme disease and climate change using a life-history simulation model with new downscaled climate scenarios.
  • Build on the current adaptive capacity of the state's vector-borne disease surveillance program.

Drought:

Wisconsin's climate preparedness strategy includes a measure to minimize threats to public health and safety by anticipating and managing impacts resulting from extreme weather events like drought.

Flooding:

Wisconsin's climate preparedness strategy includes a measure to minimize threats to public health and safety by anticipating and managing impacts resulting from extreme weather events like floods.

Extreme Weather:

Wisconsin'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 and flood events.
  • Goals to improve their warning system for extreme weather events.
  • In addition, Wisconsin also identifies extremely cold temperatures as an extreme weather event, but does not include specific measures to address this threat.

Find out more

  1. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. Region: Midwest, 2009.
  2. Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation, 2011.
  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. Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation, 2011.
  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. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Report to Congress: Impacts and Control of CSOs and SSOs. Appendix D: List of Active CSO Permits, 2004.
  14. 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.
  15. Federal Emergency Management Agency. DHS. Declared Disasters by Year or State, 2011.
  16. Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts. Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation, 2011.
  17. Natural Resources Defense Council. Tides of Trouble: Increased Threats to Human Health and Ecosystems from Harmful Algal Blooms, 2010.

Wisconsin's Changing Climate

  • Average temperatures, rainfall, record floods, and extreme heat are all on the rise.1
  • In the future, with climate change, temperature will continue increasing by 4 to 9°F (2-5°C) by 2050.2
  • Residents will experience greater health risks from increasing dangerous heat waves, storms and flooding, waterborne illnesses, infectious diseases, declining air quality, and drought.
  • Wisconsin has a strategy to prepare for the health impacts of climate change. The city of Milwaukee developed its own plan that includes additional measures to address air quality threats.

Climate Change Health Threats in Wisconsin

Share | |
Find NRDC on
YouTube