CDC gives money to city, state health departments to meet public health challenges caused by climate change

On Monday, the American Public Health Association (APHA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released a public health guidebook on climate change. According to the guidebook, climate change could lead to numerous adverse health effects like heat stress and the spread of infectious diseases.

Because of climate change, there could even be a longer pollen season, resulting in increased respiratory and allergy problems, the guidebook warns.

“There is mounting evidence that climate change is responsible for an increasing number of sustained health problems,” said Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of APHA, in a statement. “As the science continues to grow, public health practitioners are facing new challenges to address the issue and education the public and policy-makers about these risks.”

Don’t despair, however, because fortunately, the CDC “approaches this challenge in the same way it prepares for the possibilities of bioterrorism and pandemic influenza.”

In order to assist state and local health departments, “investigate, prepare for, and respond” to public health problems caused by climate change, the CDC – which is a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – awarded $5.25 million to ten city and state health departments last fall.

“The programs will address health impacts including heat-related illness, animal- and insect-related illness, food- and water-borne diseases, conditions that worsen allergies and respiratory problems, and health effects linked to intense weather events,” said the CDC press release announcing the awards.

The awardees include state such as New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, and Maine, and cities such as New York City and San Francisco. According to the CDC website, the money is to be used to “asses threats, make plans and develop programs to meet the public health challenges of climate change over the next three years.”

According to CDC spokesperson Vivi Abrams, the grants were awarded last fall through an application process.

In recent months, ramped up public-health concerns have played a central role in efforts by Democrats and the environmental community to protect the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this month, the House passed legislation authored by Republicans Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan and Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma that reins in the EPA’s authority. The bill – The Energy Tax Prevention Act – failed in the Senate, however.