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March 26, 2019

Climate change in Michigan poses emerging public health threat

April 25, 2016

Climate change in Michigan poses emerging public health threat

Topic: Research

Changing climate conditions — including warmer temperatures and an increased frequency of heavy rainstorms — represent "an emerging threat to public health in Michigan," according to a new report from university researchers and state health officials.

The report, "Michigan Climate and Health Profile Report 2015: Building resilience against climate effects on Michigan's health," was released Monday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences Assessments Program—a partnership between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

Based on current climate trends in Michigan and projections for the next few decades, the authors identified five health topics of concern for Michigan residents:

• Respiratory diseases. Projected conditions favor increased air pollution and worsening respiratory disease. An earlier and longer growing season for plants could increase pollen levels, which in turn could exacerbate allergies and asthma.

• Heat-related illnesses. Heat waves featuring high temperatures, high humidity and stagnant air masses could become more common and may lead to increased levels of heat-related illness and death.

• Water-borne diseases. Across the Upper Midwest, extreme precipitation events have become more intense and more frequent over the past century. In coming decades, intense precipitation events and flooding are projected to stay the same or increase. Runoff from sewage and septic systems will remain a problem, potentially increasing the risk of water-borne diseases and, in some cases, harmful algal blooms.

• Vector-borne diseases. Projections point to warmer winters, earlier springs and warmer summers, conditions suitable for mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and tick-carried diseases such as Lyme disease.

• Carbon monoxide poisoning and weather-related injuries. Weather-related power outages are likely to increase, especially in the winter, leading to increased use of generators and related cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. An increased frequency of freezing rain and flooding will raise the risk of motor vehicle accidents and other types of injuries.

For the report, Marie O'Neill, associate professor of environmental health sciences and epidemiology, and Larissa Larsen, associate professor of urban planning and of landscape architecture, examined places in the state, including Detroit, which could see an increased risk of climate-sensitive health problems such as heat wave-related illnesses and death.

"I'm particularly pleased that the report addresses the relationship between climate change, environmental and social factors," said O'Neill. "This is an important step in better understanding people at risk."

According to the report, the average annual temperature has increased by 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1951 in southeastern Michigan, and by 1.3 degrees in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula. During that same period, total annual average precipitation across the state increased by 4.5 percent, or 1.4 inches.

"The findings from this report will help focus future efforts to strengthen Michigan's public health preparedness as extreme weather events become increasingly common," said GLISA Program Manager Elizabeth Gibbons, who served as a report editor and coordinated efforts with the state.

The Climate and Health Profile Report was funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report is the first step in a nationwide CDC effort to inform communities and public health officials about the most current climate science related to environment and health.

The DHHS Climate and Health Adaptation Program will use the report to educate community health officials and planners in preparing for emerging threats. Program officials will seek additional CDC funding to test health interventions that address the vulnerabilities and impacts identified in the report.

The Great Lakes Integrated Sciences Assessments Program is housed in the Graham Sustainability Institute's Climate Center and is one of 10 regional centers funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. GLISA builds capacity to manage risks from climate change and variability in the Great Lakes region.

Comments

Tom Wagner
on 4/26/16 at 7:52 am

Climate change, a public health risk? How about all the all the snow and ice avoided slips and falls, colds and flues, and vehicle crashes. How about the lower heating bills and fewer frozen pipes. How about a longer outdoor recreation season contributing to better health?

Kevin Atkins
on 4/26/16 at 9:03 am

Could, may, projected, projections!! Suddenly these waffle words transform into "emerging threats"! CO/generators: now we are REALLY reaching? I would love to see how much was the funding for this "definitive" finding (see: could, may, etc.). These demi-conclusions are a perfect example of 'rent seeking'?

Ann Jackson
on 4/26/16 at 9:59 am

Besides giving all the Chicken Littles something to be anxious about, how about communicating what UM is doing to combat it. How about research on Chem Trails that are changing the weather and effecting our environment (climate, nature), and personal health.

Joseph Pratt
on 4/26/16 at 10:36 am

The anger in the comments above is puzzling. From the outset the article said:
'Based on current climate trends in Michigan and projections for the next few decades, the authors identified five health topics of concern for Michigan residents'. There is no denying that a trend has been recorded over last few decades. It is climatologists job to identify these trends and make recommendations. That's all..... It's something to think about and certainly an item to be aware of. It is science and it is the nature of scientific propositions to be proven wrong if such a case can be made. However, given the current trends, I don't read that any of you above are making a valid counter argument that supports a proposition of no climate change. Hence, this article stands as valid analysis until which time someone presents proposition backed up by observations that, without doubt, counter the underlying principles and trends on which the above article is based.

A j
on 4/28/16 at 3:02 pm

Never mind all the "propositions", how about some Verbs! ;)

Vincent Caruso
on 4/30/16 at 4:14 pm

It would be great to see UofM take this to heart. Flood hazard has increased greatly in the last few decades with Global Warming and all the development in Ann Arbor including UofM Main Campus. The U continues to add imperviousness without regard to flooding in Ann Arbor. Neighbors to the campus are facing much more flooding with all the runoff from the Main Campus. School Girls Glen in the Arb is being flooded and eroded routinely but the U refused to address this with the additions to the SPH building and rebuilding of parking lots with no flood mitigation considerations.

They are developing out the Athletic Campus in the Allen's Creek Floodplain according to city records, more flood hazard.

The city passed a Green Street Policy, among other things, to reduce flooding and the U is speechless.

Vincent Caruso
on 4/30/16 at 4:14 pm

It would be great to see UofM take this to heart. Flood hazard has increased greatly in the last few decades with Global Warming and all the development in Ann Arbor including UofM Main Campus. The U continues to add imperviousness without regard to flooding in Ann Arbor. Neighbors to the campus are facing much more flooding with all the runoff from the Main Campus. School Girls Glen in the Arb is being flooded and eroded routinely but the U refused to address this with the additions to the SPH building and rebuilding of parking lots with no flood mitigation considerations.

They are developing out the Athletic Campus in the Allen's Creek Floodplain according to city records, more flood hazard.

The city passed a Green Street Policy, among other things, to reduce flooding and the U is speechless.

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