Cook County, Illinois Climate Change and Public Health Action Plan

This strategic plan was developed to help Cook County, Illinois adapt to current and projected public health impacts resulting from climate change. The plan identifies five areas of concern in the county including: extreme heat and weather; food-borne illness; vector-borne illness; water quality and quantity and waterborne diseases; and air pollution and allergens - which are expected to be more prevalent as climate change continues and extreme weather events become more common. This report was sponsored by the Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Cook County, with a population of over 5 million people, is the second most populous county in the United States, and is home to Chicago - along with over 40% of the population of Illinois.

One of the primary objectives of this plan for Cook County is to reinforce the importance of adapting to the public health effects of climate change. Successfully implementing the goals of this plan will include the establishment of the adaptive measures developed and presented in this report.

Each of the report’s focal impacts are described for current and projected trends, along with specific recommendations for preparedness:

Extreme heat and weather

  • Development of climate models and research specific to Cook County to promote awareness of the dangers of climate change
  • Improvement of ongoing extreme weather surveillance programs
  • Improved communication with the public during extreme weather events
  • The involvement of geriatricians, community health physicians who care for low- income and minority residents, and homeless advocates with the review of emergency operations plans

Food-borne illness

  • Collaboration with the veterinary sector to prevent and manage zoonotic disease outbreaks
  • More comprehensive messaging regarding refrigeration and the need to discard food after power outages

Vector-borne illness

  • Improvement of vector surveillance and control
  • Collaboration of public health officials with physicians, hospitals, and local medical societies to enhance awareness of trends in VBD
  • Improvement of health services during infectious disease outbreaks
  • Better diagnostic support during epidemics
  • Further identification and classification of vulnerable populations
  • Eradication of homelessness

Water quality and quantity, Water-borne diseases

  • Development of climate adaptation plans by local water and wastewater utilities
  • More resilient and adaptive, ecologically-based water treatment infrastructure

Air pollution and allergens

  • Assessment of limitations in tracking health outcomes related to exposure to air pollution and allergens
  • Development of robust data analyses on the relationships between ambient temperature, outdoor allergens, air pollution and cardiovascular or respiratory health outcomes
  • Education of pediatricians and those who care for children about the links between hot weather and asthma outbreaks
  • Mitigating the factors that cause minority groups to be at greater risk for asthma
  • Better communication with the public about risks and prevention of disease

 

Publication Date: 2012

Related Organizations:

  • Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility

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  • Plans (other)

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