EU Science Hub

Human health

Human health is sensitive to climate conditions and it seems reasonable to expect that climate change will affect seriously human health in future decades. In the last years several studies have focused on both direct and indirect impacts of climate change on health including, among others, Ebi et al. (2006), Haines and Patz (2004), and McMichael et al. (2006).

The aim of this assessment (Paci, 2014) is to quantify, the potential effects of alternative future climate scenarios for the health of EU citizens.

Methodology

The assessment follows a methodological approach similar to that of the PESETA study (Watkiss and Hunt, 2012), and of the FP7 ClimateCost project (Kovats et al., 2011). Empirical exposure-response functions (statistical relationships between a specific human health impact and climate change variables) are used to estimate climate-induced changes in mortality and morbidity. The health impacts considered in the assessment are:

  • Heat-related mortality and morbidity (from cardiovascular and respiratory causes)
  • Heatwave mortality and morbidity (from the same causes as above, health effects of heatwaves are additional to those cause by higher temperatures in general)
  • Food-borne and water-borne diseases (Salmonellosis and Campylobacteriosis)

Acclimatisation is included, though the results do not include effects of specific adaptation efforts such as early warning systems.

Main results and findings

Under the Reference run, climate change is estimated to increase mortality attributable to the causes mentioned above by around 100 000 deaths per year (100%), or 80 000 in the 2°C run. In proportional terms, the greatest increase is estimated to occur in Central Europe South.

References

Ebi K.L., Mills D.M., Smith J.B., Grambsch A. (2006), Climate Change and Human Health Impacts in the United States: An Update on the Results of the U.S. National Assessment, Environ Health Perspect, 114(9), pp. 1318–1324
Haines A., Patz J. (2004), Health effects of climate change, JAMA, 291, pp. 99–103
Kovats S., Lloyd S., Hunt A., Watkiss P. (2011), Technical Policy Briefing Note 8: The Impacts and Economic Costs on Health in Europe and the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation, Results of the EC RTD ClimateCost Project. In Watkiss, P (Ed), 2011. The ClimateCost Project. Final Report. Volume 1: Europe. Published by the Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden, 2011.
McMichael A.J., Woodruff R.E., Hales S. (2006), Climate change and human health: present and future risks, Lancet, 367, pp. 859–869
Paci D (2014). Human Health Impacts of Climate Change in Europe. Report for the PESETA II project. JRC Scientific and Policy Reports 26494 EN.
Watkiss P. and Hunt A. (2012), Projection of economic impacts of climate change in sectors of Europe based on bottom up analysis: human health. Climatic Change, 112(1), pp.101-126
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