Climate change affects public health at many levels, and local health departments play a vital role in helping communities prepare for and address the health effects of climate change. As the climate continues to change communities will be susceptible to a number of health threats, including increased exposure to vector-borne and infectious diseases, worsening air quality and pollution levels, food shortages, and lack of access to safe drinking water. NACCHO believes, with the necessary resources, local health departments are uniquely positioned to respond to these health impacts and protect the public's health.
NACCHO and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change studied climate change preparedness at the local and published their findings in Are We Ready? Report 2: Preparing for the Public Health Challenges of Climate Change. Key highlights include:
- Nearly 8 out of 10 local health department directors believed climate change was already occurring, and more than half thought climate change was already harming the public, or would begin to do so in the next decade;
- Nearly 8 out of 10 local health department directors believed their local health department lacked the expertise to assess the potential impacts of climate change and effectively create plans to respond to climate change adaptation plans; and
- Nearly 9 out of 10 local health department directors felt their health department lacked sufficient resources to effectively protect the local population from the impacts of climate change
12 Steps to Operationalize Climate Change in a Local Health Department is a fact sheet that helps local health departments address climate change and initiate programs to help mitigate the public health impacts associated with it. The fact sheet identifies 12 important steps that local health departments should follow when initiating climate change work, and functions as a checklist to ensure all stages are successfully completed. It covers climate change education for health department staff, availability of staff and resources to address the issues, identification of existing effects in the community, and development and implementation of a climate change adaptation plan.
The NACCHO Climate Change Toolkit helps local health departments to develop strategic action plans, conduct vulnerability assessments, communicate about climate change, adapt to the effects of climate change, and more. Have a resource you’d like to share? NACCHO is always seeking toolkit additions that address public health issues particular to extreme temperature incidents. Send your strategies, protocols, case examples, reports, training materials, messaging materials, presentations, fact sheets, drills, etc. directly to the Climate Change Toolkit or to Chelsea Gridley-Smith.
The NACCHO Global Climate Change Workgroup is committed to providing leadership and resources to support local health department climate change efforts. The workgroup is comprised of local health officials, environmental health professionals, environmental health directors, and subject matter experts who are interested in enhancing climate change adaptation and mitigation policies and practices.
The workgroup holds at least one in-person meeting (pending funding), monthly conference calls, and work in between meetings. In addition, the workgroup reviews documents and participates in judging model practice applications throughout the year. Appointment to the workgroup is for a two-year term with an option for reappointment to a second two-year term. Message Chelsea Gridley-Smith for more information.
NACCHO invites local health departments to submit stories that highlight and showcase local climate change work. The Climate Change Story Series is used to advocate for local health departments, share information with federal partners and other local health departments, and raise awareness of the important work of public health professionals.
NACCHO University, NACCHO’s new online learning platform, provides courses to help local health department staff develop their public health knowledge and competencies. The Climate Change and Public Health course explores the relationship between climate change and public health. Students will be able to do the following upon completion of the course:
- Define climate change;
- Describe the ways that climate change impacts public health; and
- Describe climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the local health department roles in each
Click below to access NACCHO's policy statements regarding climate change and other public health issues.
Additional NACCHO resources addressing the health impacts of climate change and what local health departments are doing and can do are listed below.
- CDC: Technical Documentation on Exposure-Response: Functions for Climate-Sensitive Health Outcomes - May 2017
- CDC: Climate and Health Intervention Assessment: Evidence on Public Health Interventions to Prevent the Negative Health Effects of Climate Change - May 2017
- CDC/EPA: Climate Change and Extreme Heat - What You Can Do to Prepare - October 2016
- EPA Report: Climate Change Indicators in the United States - 2016 Edition
- Achieving a Climate for Health: Philanthropy to Promote Health and Justice through the Challenges of Climate Change - June 2015
- APHA Report: Adaptation in Action: Grantee Success Stories from CDC's Climate and Health Program - March 2015
- NOAA Report: State of the Climate 2015
- CDC's Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) Framework - 2015
- IPCC Report: Climate Change 2013 - The Physical Science Basis
- NIEHS Extreme Weather, Climate, and Health: Putting Science into Practice - 2013
2010 - Older
- Action Plan for Public Health: Initial Recommendations for Involving Public Health in Climate Change Policy - 2010
- An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress. PNAS. 2010
- Effectively Addressing Climate Risk Through Adaptation for the Energy Gulf Coast - 2010
- ICMA Report: Getting Smart about Climate Change - 2010
- Rising Stream and River Temperatures in the U.S. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2010
- Preparing for Climate Change: A Perspective from Local Public Health Officers in California. Environ. Health. Perspect. 2009
- Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States - 2009
- Trust for America's Health Report: Health Problems Heat Up: Climate Change and the Public's Health - 2009
- Climate Change and California's Local Public Health Agencies - 2008
- Climate Change: The Public Health Response. American Journal of Public Health. 2008
APHA Climate Change Webinars
- Climate Changes Health: Clean Energy Changes Climate (30 Mar 2017)
- Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications and Guidance (29 Mar 2017)
- Climate Justice Changes Health: Local, Tribal, Global and Generational (27 Feb 2017)
- Making the Connection: Climate Changes Mental Health (29 Jun 2016)
- Changing Climate through Healthy Community Design and Transportation (7 Jun 2016)
- Climate Changes Children's Health (26 May 2016)
- Climate Changes Allergies and Asthma (9 May 2016)
- Climate Changes Health: Tools to Communicate the Problem (28 Apr 2016)
- Older APHA Webinars (2010-2015)
- An Overview of Climate Change Science and Impacts on Human Health
- A Look at U.S. Regional Impacts of Climate Change on Health
- The Public Health Role in State and Local Climate Action Plans
- Climate Change: Communicating the Public Health Imperative
- An Eye Toward Public Health Adaptation Strategy
- Looking ahead: Advancing the Public Health Response to Climate Change
- A Look at State and Local Climate Action Planning
- A Look at State and Local Practice in Developing Vulnerability and Needs Assessments
- A Look at State and Local Public Health Adaptation Tools
- CDC's Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) Framework
- Public Health Planning and Climate Change: Lessons from Superstorm Sandy
- Integrating Climate Change and Public Health Preparedness