Climate Change and Health

Climate change affects weather which affects us all on a day to day basis. The types of weather changes that are predicted for Ireland may cause health effects such as:

Flooding, rising sea levels and severe weather events may have direct and indirect effects such as
  • Direct - Increased injury and drowning
  • Indirect – electrocution, carbon monoxide poisoning, displacement and significant disruption including for healthcare, mental health effects
Warmer weather including heat waves may
  • Increase heat-related mortality and decrease cold-related mortality
  • Change environmental conditions altering water-borne and vector-borne disease patterns
  • Increase winter survival in soil of pests and pathogens
  • Increase UV exposure, which increases risk for skin cancers but may be beneficial for some conditions such as rickets & psoriasis
  • Increase recreational water accidents but also increase wellbeing from sea bathing
Cold-snaps may
  • Increase cold-related mortality
Wetter winters may
  • Increase contamination of drinking water
Drier summers may
  • Improve wellbeing

All of the above are likely to affect populations unequally as there are likely to variable regional weather effects and variable regional vulnerability. People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally, or otherwise marginalised may be especially vulnerable.

Departments of Public Health monitor health conditions and contribute to planning in order to minimise health effects of climate change on the health of the population.