Climate Change and Human Health in New Hampshire: An Impact Assessment
Prepared by the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire, this report provides an assessment of past and projected future climate change in New Hampshire, summarizes current knowledge on the health impacts of climate change, and outlines the potential climate-related human health impacts in New Hampshire in the coming decades.
The research and writing of this report were completed under a contract between the University of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services for the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) grant for Building Resilience against Climate Effects (BRACE).
The primary objectives of this study are to present the results of downscaled global climate model simulations for specific locations across New Hampshire, and to review the localized evidence for health effects related to climate change, climate variability, and severe weather. In addition, the report is designed to inform adaptation strategies for New Hampshire, and to help identify the most vulnerable populations who are at increased risk from climate-related health impacts.
Following the CDC BRACE framework, the report presents climate impacts on human health by the following types of health impact:
- Temperature, heat events, and heat stress injury/death
- Extreme weather and injury/death
- Temperature, air quality, and respiratory and cardiovascular illness
- Pollen, mold, and allergies
- Vector-borne diseases
- Food-borne diseases
- Water-borne diseases
- Climate change, health behaviors, and chronic disease
- Climate change, mental health, and stress-related disorders
The potential primary and secondary health impacts for New Hampshire, as well as equity considerations and identification of vulnerable populations, are listed in Table ES-3.
Many comprehensive public health and cross sectoral recommendations are described in the report’s conclusion. Here are a few good examples:
Protecting natural ecosystems, using low-impact development and green infrastructure, integrating climate change considerations into master plans and hazard mitigation plans, and developing multi-modal transportation systems can simultaneously serve to minimize the health impacts of climate change while also reducing the risks associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Efforts should be directed towards intentionally building a network of multi-sectoral partners who can support each other in developing a common understanding of the impacts and vulnerabilities, and ultimately implement coordinated adaptation strategies at local, state, and regional scales. Examples could include integrating climate change adaptation elements into emergency preparedness plans, including health-related climate adaptation strategies into Master Plan revisions and zoning decisions, and partnering closely with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ (DES) climate adaptation initiatives.
Publication Date: May 2015
- New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
- University of New Hampshire
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Air quality
- Air temperature