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Health Aspects of Climate Change
Speaker: Howard Frumkin (download slides)
Summary of Remarks: While weather extremes, melting glaciers, and crop failures dominate the public discourse on global warming, human health risks from climate change are of growing concern to both the public and health professionals. This briefing will provide an overview of these health risks and health system responses. First, Dr. Rita Colwell (University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health) will review major health threats, including heat waves, weather and hydrologic extremes, reduced air quality, rising allergen exposures, infectious diseases, reduced agricultural output, mental health consequences, and civil disruption such as population displacement. She will draw particularly on her research on infectious diseases, including both vector-borne diseases (e.g. malaria, plague, and many viral diseases) and water-borne diseases (e.g. cholera), explaining recent scientific advances in understanding the links between environmental change and disease risk. Second, Dr. Howard Frumkin (CDC) will discuss the public health response to these threats, drawing on a framework developed at CDC and now being implemented at the Federal, state, and local levels. This response involves longstanding core public health activities, such as disease surveillance, outbreak investigations, vulnerability assessments, health communication, and preparedness planning. He will also emphasize the importance of assessing the health consequences of mitigation strategies, so decision-makers can choose the most health-protective approaches. Finally, Dr, Jonathan Patz (University of Wisconsin) will introduce the concept of co-benefits, a key strategy in both addressing climate change and promoting health. For example, transportation strategies that reduce travel demand and favor walking, bicycling, and transit over automobiles, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote physical activity as well as improve air quality. The net result is a steep drop in cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma and other ailments. Dr. Patz will cite recent analyses in the US suggesting that climate change mitigation could offer a substantial opportunity to improve the health of the public and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs and worker productivity.
Excerpt from: Climate Change and Human Health. February, 2010.
Watch Video (19 minutes, 12 seconds):
Howard Frumkin is Special Assistant to the Director for Climate Change and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC’s Climate Change program (www.cdc.gov/climate change) works to identify and understand the adverse health impacts of climate change, ranging from heat waves to infectious diseases, and to prevent or control these impacts.
Dr. Frumkin is an internist, environmental and occupational medicine specialist, and epidemiologist. From 2005 to 2010 he directed the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) at the CDC. During his tenure NCEH/ATSDR created its Climate Change program; launched training programs for college students, doctoral students, and post-docs; expanded its Built Environment, Biomonitoring, and Environmental Health Tracking programs; and launched its National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures. Previously, he was Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Emory Medical School.
Dr. Frumkin previously served on the Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), where he co-chaired the Environment Committee; as president of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC); as chair of the Science Board of the American Public Health Association (APHA), and on the National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors. As a member of EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee, he chaired the Smart Growth and Climate Change work groups. He currently serves on the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine. In Georgia, he was a member of the state’s Hazardous Waste Management Authority, the Department of Agriculture Pesticide Advisory Committee, and the Pollution Prevention Assistance Division Partnership Program Advisory Committee, and is a graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. In Georgia’s Clean Air Campaign, he served on the Board and chaired the Health/Technical Committee. He was named Environmental Professional of the Year by the Georgia Environmental Council in 2004. His research interests include public health aspects of the built environment; air pollution; metal and PCB toxicity; climate change; health benefits of contact with nature; and environmental and occupational health policy, especially regarding minority communities and developing nations. He is the author or co-author of over 180 scientific journal articles and chapters, and his books include Urban Sprawl and Public Health (Island Press, 2004, co-authored with Larry Frank and Dick Jackson; named a Top Ten Book of 2005 by Planetizen, the Planning and Development Network), Emerging Illness and Society (Johns Hopkins Press, 2004, co-edited with Randall Packard, Peter Brown, and Ruth Berkelman), Environmental Health: From Global to Local (Jossey-Bass, 2005 and 2010; winner of the Association of American Publishers 2005 Award for Excellence in Professional and Scholarly Publishing in Allied/Health Sciences), Safe and Healthy School Environments (Oxford University Press, 2006, co-edited with Leslie Rubin and Robert Geller), and Green Healthcare Institutions: Health, Environment, Economics (National Academies Press, 2007, co-edited with Christine Coussens).
Dr. Frumkin received his A.B. from Brown University, his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. from Harvard, his Internal Medicine training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Cambridge Hospital, and his Occupational Medicine training at Harvard. He is Board-certified in Internal Medicine and Occupational Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Collegium Ramazzini and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
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