People and Health

Public health can be affected by disruptions in climate. The health effects of these disruptions can include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in the frequency and location of food- and water-borne illnesses, the spread of disease caused by insects, and potential threats to mental health through isolation or stress.

In a report released by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, climate change related variations to weather patterns, such as more intense and frequent extreme events, changes in water, air, food quality and quantity and infrastructure, will all have an impact on health. For example, although air quality has been improving across the province, climate change has the potential to increase levels of air pollutants which will increase risk of respiratory illnesses. In tandem, climate change may increase the pollen, molds and allergens in the air. And, not only would an increase in temperatures contribute to an increase in food-borne illnesses, impacts to food access can be expected, as climate change weather events (temperature, flooding, drought, and extreme storms) may interrupt local and global food production systems. Other climate impacts could include an increase in vector-borne diseases, such as West Nile Virus or tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.

Changes to the climate will also impact water quality throughout the region through both increased potential for contamination by bacteria, as well as increases in algal blooms, including blue-green algae.

Considerations: How might climate change affect the health of our citizens in the short, medium and long-term? What are the cultural components of the area? What recreational activities are available? What draws tourists to the area and how might this be affected by climate change? Will community/social life be impacted by climate change? How can these impacts be mitigated?


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