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Environmental Health Indicators: Climate Change

Climate Change:

Background: Current literature documents the potential adverse human health impacts presented by climate change. For this reason, SEHIC established a workgroup to determine indicators of climate and health for state health departments. SEHIC began with a comprehensive review of the scientific literature to identify outcomes and actions related to climate variability that could inform recommendations about the development of a suite of climate and health indicators. Priority was then given to identifying longitudinal data sets that were applicable at the state and community level. The work group recognized that indicators are needed to measure current vulnerability to climate variability and change. Indicators are also needed to track possible changes in health outcomes to determine if climate change is actually affecting their state, local, or regional population. For local indicator guidance, click here.

Indicator Pilot: The CSTE climate change subcommittee developed 24 climate and health indicators including a instructions on how to calculate each indicator and a template to facilitate organizing and recording the data. Each indicator’s description and accompanying instructions were pilot tested in 2011 and 2012 to improve and finalize the implementing instructions and to generate multistate data for each indicator. With the results from these pilots, CSTE finalized the climate and health indicator documents.

Completed Indicators: Some indicators are measures of environmental variables that either directly or indirectly can affect human health, such as maximum and minimum temperature extremes. Other indicators can be used to project future health impacts based on changes in exposure, assuming exposure-response relationships remain constant over temporal and spatial scales.

Environmental indicators
1 Greenhouse gas emissions
2 Air mass stagnation events
3 Max/min and diurnal temperature
4 Pollen indicator
5 Number of fires and percent of total acres impacted by state
6 Positive test results in sentinels and reservoirs
Health outcome indicators
7 Rate of heat deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits during summer months
8 Injuries and deaths due to extreme weather events
9 Human cases of Lyme disease
10 Human cases of West Nile Virus
11 Allergic disease
Mitigation indicators
12 Total energy consumption per capita
13 Renewable energy consumption per capita
14 Vehicle miles traveled
Adaptation indicators
15 Development of a state adaptation plan
16 Access to cooling centers
17 Heat island mitigation plan
18 Health surveillance systems related to climate change
Public health workforce trained in climate change research, surveillance, and adaptation
Policy Indicators
20 Development of a state climate change advisory board
21 Development of a state climate change action plan
22 Completion of a greenhouse gas inventory
23 Number and percent of local governments participating in ICLEI
24 Percent of population living in cities participating in the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement
Click here to view the air quality indicators or the asthma indicators. Click here to view other environmental health activities.