Health

Sector Overview
The health impacts that can result from exposure to extreme weather events, such as heat events and coastal storms, include direct loss of life, increases in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and compromised mental health. Other related health stressors, such as air pollution, pollen, and vector-borne, water-borne and food-borne diseases, can also be influenced by weather and climate.

The CCRUN health sector team is lead by Dr. Patrick Kinney at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

 

Phase I Highlights
Examined the heat-health risks in the context of Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.

Highlighted the increasing role that public science is playing in climate resiliency planning. Basic research analyzing historically observed impacts of weather extremes on mortality and health system utilization, coupled with ensembles of downscaled climate projections has enabled projections of future risks that help to inform adaptation planning at the city scale

Learned from stakeholder interactions the importance of actionable research information for use in public health messaging, preparedness, and warning systems.

 

Phase II Highlights

Phase II researchers used historical databases on heat-related mortality in New York City to model the ways  urban populations adapted to dangerously high temperatures. These models were used to project future health impacts while taking future climate and population changes into account. The study found that the per-unit exposure risk for heat-related mortality in New York City has declined over the 20th century. This trend can potentially be used to develop adaptation projections for future impact assessments.

Phase II also monitored traffic-related particle (TRAP) exposures of recreational cyclists in NYC during a series of commutes while measuring breathing rates. Researchers found that the bulk of one’s daily inhaled dose of TRAP is encountered in the brief period of commuting, due to the interaction of high air concentrations and high breathing rates. Future real-time data on route-specific TRAP levels could be used by cyclists to choose routes that minimize exposure to this dangerous pollutant.

Phase II’s third health study found that the effects of ambient fine particles on hospitalizations for cardiac problems were higher in winter and at colder temperatures, suggesting that warming temperatures might lead to slightly reduced health effects of air pollution.