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ARRA Investments in Human Health Impacts of Climate Change

Public Health Burden
Global climate change has become one of the most visible environmental concerns of the 21st century.   Global warming may impact human health directly through increased temperature as well as through other changes to the human environment, such as rising oceans, changing weather patterns, and decreased availability of fresh water.  In addition, proposed strategies for adapting to and mitigating climate change are likely to have associated human health consequences. Collectively, the impact on human health is likely to be complex and significant, including effects on cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, development disorders and neurological diseases, food-, water-, and vector-borne diseases, heat-related illness, mental and social well-being, nutrition and trauma.

Predicting Human Health Impacts of Climate Change
A better understanding of how global warming will alter human health risks and vulnerabilities in the U.S. and around the world is needed to inform public health planning.  Research is needed to determine the current impacts of climate on disease burden and health outcomes, as well as to predict future impacts of different climate and socio-economic scenarios on disease burden and health outcomes. Several ARRA funded projects focus on how current climate and future climate change scenarios may impact human health by developing:
  • Models to assess past and future climatological influences on heat waves and associated heat-related morbidity and mortality (HRMM) to enhance heat warning systems and protect vulnerable populations in California, with the potential to be used in other regions.1
  • Models to estimate exposure to air pollution (specifically particulate matter) during wildfires and associated respiratory and cardiovascular health impacts, and predict potential health effects of increased intensity and frequency of wildfires under different climate change scenarios.2
  • General models and user-friendly software for establishing relationships between climate variables and health effects that can accommodate a variety of data sources and types, focusing on three health outcomes as examples: asthma hospitalizations, incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer and a food borne disease salmonellosis.3
  • A model for forecasting the spread of major epidemics and resulting mass population movements to provide predictions of the geographical spread of the disease in a timely manner and help guide public health efforts and the adoption of effective policies anticipating the response of the population.4
  • A Cholera-Climate Prediction Model (CCPM) that integrates information on a number of determinants of cholera occurrence and transmission to provide estimates of disease burden and outcomes for different plausible climatic scenarios in three different cholera prone regions of the world, with the potential to be used in other regions.5

  1. 1RC1ES018612-01 -- Respiratory Health Impacts of Wildfire Particulate Emissions under Climate Change -- French, Nancy (MI)
  2. 1RC1ES019073-01 -- Projected Heat Wave Magnitudes and Public Health Impacts -- Margolis, Helene (CA)
  3. 1RC1GM092400-01 -- Hierarchical Spatial Process Models for Estimating and Predicting Health Effects -- Banerjee, Sudipto (MN)
  4. 1RC1LM010641-01 -- Improved Tracking for Emerging Diseases from Climate Change -- Cobb, Loren (CO)
  5. 1RC1TW008587-01 -- Effects of Climate Change on Cholera Dynamics and Prediction -- Islam, Shafiqul (MA)

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