The Impact of Climate
Change on Health

Climate change is creating a range of new problems for public health. The WHO & WMO’s report, Atlas of Health & Climate, highlights four main areas of emerging environmental challenges.

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What will be the consequences of rising temperatures?

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Threshold Thermometer showing high temperature

Use the slider control on the left to turn up the temperature above the threshold.

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Case Study
The European Heat Wave of 2003

During 2003, Europe experienced its hottest summer on record since 1540

Death rates increased up to 5 times their expected levels

Expected Actual

That equates to over 70,000 deaths

= 10,000 people
Urban Heat Island Effect

Urban Heat Island Effect

The urban heat island effect can cause temperatures to rise by more than 5ºC compared to rural areas.

What are the impacts of excessive exposure to uv radiation?

4.8
per
100,000

30.8
per
100,000

Sunglasses
1970–1979 2000–2009

Click the lenses on the sunglasses to reveal the statistics.

Bottles of suncream on a shelf

Sun
Block

Sun
Cream

Cooling

After
Sun

Click the bottles to find out more.

UV Index


The Global Solar UV Index is provided with most weather forecasts. It is a simple measure of UV radiation levels, encouraging people to protect themselves from the sun when UV levels are high.

Children


Children are most at risk, as exposure to the sun during childhood appears to set the stage for the development of skin cancer later in life.

Vaccines


There is a growing body of evidence that suggests the levels of UV radiation in the enviroment may enhance the risk of infectious diseases and limit the efficacy of vaccinations.

South Pole

The ozone layer normally protects the earth
from this harmful UV radiation. The hole in the
ozone has now grown to around 25 million KM2
which is likely to make the problems posed
by UV radiation more prevalent.

Map showing hole in the ozone layer over the South Pole

The ozone layer normally protects the earth from this harmful UV radiation. The hole in the ozone has now grown to around 25 million KM2 which is likely to make the problems posed by UV radiation more prevalent.

The impact of natural allergens

Click To Breathe

Illustration of bronchus and lungs

It’s estimated that 235 million people around the world now suffer from asthma.
Click the pump on the inhaler to find out more.

  • Asthma is the most prevalent childhood disease and numbers are still increasing.
  • Asthma is caused by many factors, including poor air quality and the presence of airborne allegens such as pollen.
  • It is estimated that asthma costs Europe €17.7 billion per year – that’s including an estimated €10 billion in lost productivity.
A tree with leaves growing on it.

In Europe, the growing season of many trees and grasses starts earlier and lasts longer than it did 10–20 years ago.

Controlled experiments have also shown that pollen productivity increases by 60% when CO2 is doubled.

The impact of rising air pollutants

Pollution coming from a factory A factory building

Unsafe levels of air pollution can lead to severe health problems. In 2008, for example, 1.3 million premature deaths were attributed to unsafe levels of fine particulate matter in urban areas.

A cooking fire

Around 2.8 billion people rely on solid fuels for cooking in their homes. When used in rudimentary stoves or open fires, these generate high levels of short-lived pollutants that can be harmful to both the environment and health.

Smoke coming out of a chimney Illustration of a house

Every year, nearly 2 million premature deaths are attributed to household air pollution created by the inefficient use of these solid fuels used for cooking in the home.