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Environments Climate Change - CDC Tracking Network

Climate Change and Health

Scientists believe that changes in climate can affect your health in many ways. For example, a severe heat wave may have a more serious effect on a person who works outdoors or who has breathing problems. The following groups of people have higher risks for bad health effects from climate change:

  • People who are elderly, very young, disabled, poor, or live alone,
  • People with existing medical conditions such as heart disease or asthma, and
  • People who live in urban areas with high air pollution or in buildings with no air conditioning.

People who are most at risk for health effects because of extreme heat events can protect themselves by staying in air conditioned or cooler locations during heat waves, or indoors when air quality is poor.

How much climate change affects you and your community may also depend on where you live and if your area is prepared for risks. Access to effective emergency response services provided by fire and police departments and health-care systems (hospitals, ambulance service) can help reduce the health effects of extreme weather events related to climate change.

Although scientific understanding of the effects of climate change is still emerging, there is a pressing need to prepare for potential health risks. As the nation's leading public health agency, CDC is preparing for climate change the same way it prepares for other health events such as the flu. CDC uses information from past disease outbreaks, combined with scientific models that try to predict how the climate is changing and will change, to figure out what could happen in the future.

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