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Climate Change and Health

Climate change isn't just bad for the environment—it's bad for our health. Exposure to extreme temperatures can result in heat-related illness and worsening of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes.

Flooding caused by severe storms can spread disease and contaminate food and water supplies. Rising temperatures and other factors associated with climate change will increase our exposure to disease-carrying insects and rodents.


Who is at Risk?

Extreme weather, hotter days, and other planetary changes will affect all of us. But some communities, neighborhoods, and individuals will be more impacted by climate change than others. 

People who are already at risk for poor health due to social and economic factors—poverty, food insecurity, racism, unsafe housing and neighborhoods, and lack of access to quality medical and mental health care—will likely fare worse in a changing climate than those with greater resources.

Groups who are particularly vulnerable to climate-related health impacts include:

What You Can Do

You can reduce the risk of health impacts associated with climate change by planning ahead and engaging with your community. Some ideas to get your started:

Plan and Prepare

  • Prepare a plan and make an emergency “go-kit.”
  • Sign up for emergency alerts.
  • Take the conversation into your community to places of worship, schools, and community-based organizations.
  • Know the assets and resources in your community (e.g., cooling shelters, community health centers, senior center).

Get to Know Your Neighbors

  • Meet your neighbors and engage in community events.
  • Get to know your neighbors better before an emergency and find out who may need assistance.
  • Create neighborhood “buddy” networks to check on your neighbors.

Build Knowledge and Skills

  • Take a class in first aid or CPR.
  • Volunteer (e.g., donate blood, work in a food pantry, join a community garden).

Learn More

Extreme Heat and Flooding


Climate Change & Mental Health

Last updated on February 20, 2019


Cambridge Public Health Department
119 Windsor Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-665-3800 (main)
617-665-3888 (fax)
617-643-0744 (TTY)

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Derrick Neal
Chief Public Health Officer



Cambirdge Health Alliance

Cambridge City
City of Cambridge