Identifying Vulnerable Subpopulations for Climate Change Health Effects in the United States

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Abstract

Climate change can be expected to have differential effects on different subpopulations. Biological sensitivity, socioeconomic factors, and geography may each contribute to heightened risk for climate-sensitive health outcomes, which include heat stress, air pollution health effects, extreme weather event health effects, water-, food-, and vector-borne illnesses. Particularly vulnerable subpopulations include children, pregnant women, older adults, impoverished populations, people with chronic conditions and mobility and cognitive constraints, outdoor workers, and those in coastal and low-lying riverine zones. For public health planning, it is critical to identify populations that may experience synergistic effects of multiple risk factors for health problems, both related to climate change and to other temporal trends, with specific geographic factors that convey climate-related risks.

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