Human Health in a Changing Climate
Oct 18, 2022 / by admin
Girl coughing into her elbow

The effects of global climate change include increased average temperatures, rising sea levels, increasing air pollution, the spread of infectious disease, increased food and water-borne disease, and an increase in frequency and severity of natural disasters. These events are projected to have profound effects on human health.

Vulnerable communities include:

  • Low-income communities
  • Some communities of color
  • Immigrant groups
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Children and pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • Vulnerable occupational groups
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Persons with pre-existing or chronic medical conditions

Below is a list of potential impacts of climatic changes on human health.

Environmental Hazard

 Impact on Human Health

Higher temperatures and UV radiation

Increase in heat exhaustion, heat strokes, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and skin cancer from ultraviolet radiation

Sea level rise, floods, droughts, and wildfires

Drowning, contaminated food and water, malnutrition, dehydration, eye and respiratory disease, and mental illness

Increasing air pollution and aeroallergens

Asthma, nasal and eye irritation, coughs, bronchitis, and respiratory infections

Loss of biodiversity, changes to temperature, humidity, and rainfall  

Increase in vector-borne diseases including malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya fever, Lyme disease, and encephalitis

Increasing temperature and heavy rains 

Increase in outbreaks of food and water-borne diseases including infectious diarrhea, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Salmonella, E. coli, and rotavirus

Resource scarcity and population growth

Malnutrition, water scarcity, mass human migration that can result in war, political instability, poverty, and mental illness

Learn more from our climate change and human health fact sheet. 
Resource Type