Download the Climate Change and Public Health Preparation Plan
Climate Change and Public Health
Multnomah County and the City of Portland are preventing climate change in a number of ways that are outlined in their joint Climate Action Plan. Multnomah County Health Department is an active participant in the planning and implementing of this plan.
Preparing for Public Health Impacts
On October 9th, 2013 the Multnomah County Healthy Department published a 3-5 year preparation plan addressing the public health impacts of climate change. The plan focuses on three important health risks:
- Increased heat: Even though the whole county will get hotter, extreme heat affects some people more than others. This includes older adults, those who live in social isolation, people who work outdoors and the homeless. The plan identifies which parts of our community are most vulnerable and outlines steps we can take to better protect everyone.
- Poorer air-quality: As our air-quality worsens, we will experience higher concentrations of ground-level ozone and changing pollen patterns. This leads to health impacts for communities who live near major transportation corridors and other vulnerable populations. Strategies designed to address ground-level ozone concentration will also reduce other toxic air-emissions like diesel exhaust. Our plan calls out concrete actions we can take now.
- Changes to vectorborne diseases: Changes to temperature and rainfall may impact the number and type of mosquitoes found here. Some mosquitoes can spread harmful diseases like West Nile virus. It is important that we have a strong vector control program to monitor and prepare for such changes.
Climate Change and Health Equity
Climate change is a health equity and environmental justice issue. Vulnerable populations that do not have the physical or economic ability to adapt to extreme weather conditions face greater health risks. These communities also tend to experience greater burdens from the cumulative impacts of:
- Existing poor health conditions
- Lack of adequate health care
- Restricted housing choice and mobility
- High rates of un- and underemployment
- Limited access to healthy food
Multnomah County is committed to addressing climate change from this perspective and protecting our community’s most vulnerable. For more on how climate change and equity relate check out Multnomah County’s Equity and Empowerment Lens.