HHS launches resource series on health effects of climate change
The HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity has launched Climate and Health Outlook, a new climate-related public health information series, according to a press release.
The first installment of the series focused on extreme heat.
“We’ve seen what exposure to extreme heat can do,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the release. “It can lead to illness and death and makes it much harder to do a day’s work outdoors. Many people in the U.S. have jobs that require them to work outside to feed their families regardless of the weather. Our new Climate and Health Outlook protects people and their health by giving advance notice to the communities that will be most impacted in the coming months.”
The extreme heat Outlook uses monthly and seasonal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association climate projections to estimate which counties are expected to experience extremely hot days. It also identifies vulnerable populations that could be impacted by heat exposure in the next 30 and 90 days. For example, 203 counties across 14 states are projected to have 5 or more extremely hot days in May.
The Outlook provides resources for health care professionals on how to reduce health risks linked to extreme heat. Among the health risks associated with warmer temperatures are hospitalization, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney injury, blood pressure problems and mental health conditions. The clinical best practices recommended in the Outlook on assessing patients exposed to extreme heat include:
- “triage” patients with potential heat stroke;
- “recognize” heat stroke by obtaining the core temperature and assessing the airway, breathing and circulation;
- “cool” the patient through external cooling and consider internal cooling; and
- “support” the patient through continuous monitoring, correcting electrolytes and considering disposition.
“Our communities across the country will soon be facing heatwaves that will be an additional strain on our health systems,” Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine, MD, said in the release. “This information will save lives when used by public health officials, employers with outdoor workers, and schools and local health departments and the individuals they serve. Having information in advance can reduce illness and deaths from extreme heat exposure.”
HHS will update the extreme heat Outlook with relevant data, and editions covering other climate-related health threats will be released in the future.
Biden Administration Launches an Initiative to Help Protect People’s Health from Climate Events. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/05/06/biden-administration-launches-initiative-help-protect-peoples-health-climate-events.html?utm_source=news-releases-email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=may-8-2022. Published May 6, 2022. Accessed May 9, 2022.
Climate and Health Outlook: Extreme Heat. https://www.hhs.gov/climate-change-health-equity-environmental-justice/climate-change-health-equity/news/index.html. Accessed May 9, 2022.