Climate change is expected to have a number of human health impacts, on balance mostly adverse. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, such impacts include:
- heat related mortality and morbidity and
- mortality and morbidity related to extreme weather events.
In addition to these direct heat impacts, climate change is also expected to have a range of indirect health impacts, including:
- increases in water and food borne disease
- changes in seasonality of vector borne diseases
- increases in health impacts of air pollution (ground level ozone and particles)
- population shifts and associated impacts on human health
The health impacts of climate change will have spatial as well as social/economic dimensions.
The health impacts of climate change in NSW
In 2009, OEH funded a study to determine and characterise the health impacts of extreme heat events in five regions of NSW: Sydney East and West, Illawarra, Gosford-Wyong and Newcastle.
The study found that on days of extreme heat, the risk of heat-related hospital emissions increased more than admissions from other causes. The study also found that people with particular underlying health conditions (such as mental and behavioural disorders and cardiac and respiratory diseases) were more susceptible to extreme heat events.
For more information about the study, read Khalaj, B., Lloyd, G., Sheppeard V., and Dear, K. (2010) The health impacts of heat waves in five regions of New South Wales, Australia: a case-only analysis, International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 83:833-842.
For more information
The Impact of Climate Change on Health Facilities - Dr Jane Carthey (PDF 525kb). Presentation of research at the NSW Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Summit - 23 February 2007: Implications of climate change on human health and health infrastructure; Case studies; Future research directions.
NSW Health Adaptation Project (PDF 330kb). Presentation of research at the NSW Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Summit - 23 February 2007: Health impacts of climate change: pervasive, insidious, cumulative, mostly silent and inevitable.
Page last updated: 27 May 2011