The possible health effects of climate change are set out in a report published by the Department of Health, UK (DH) and the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
The report, written by an expert panel of independent scientists, takes into account the latest information and current predictions about climate change in the UK. Climate change will have consequences for the health of UK citizens. In 2002 the Department of Health published a report on the ?Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK’. This report was amongst the first of its kind in that it sought to provide quantitative estimates of the possible impacts of climate change on health. The report was well received and widely quoted.
There is now a scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to global warming, and there are questions about how to reduce possible health risks.
The findings show the UK is adapting well to rising temperatures experienced since the 1970s, but heatwaves pose an increasing risk to health and there is an increased risk of flooding.
In order to aid decision making on priorities by the UK Government, the report has looked at the health consequences if no action is taken to avoid significant climate change this century. If that were to be the case, the following consequences are possible:
– By 2012 there will be a 1 in 40 chance that the South East of England will experience a serious heatwave causing 3,000 immediate heat-related deaths.
– While malaria outbreaks in Britain are likely to remain rare and easily controlled, health authorities need to remain alert to the possibility of larger outbreaks in continental Europe and the emergence of more deadly European strains of mosquitoes in wetland areas of Britain .
– Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease are likely to become more common due to changes in land management and an increase in outside leisure time.
– Increased exposure to sunlight will lead to a rise in skin cancers.
– The number of people at a high risk from flooding is set to rise from 1.5 million to 3.5 million by 2100.
– There will be up to 14,000 (14.5 per cent) more cases of food poisoning, including Salmonella, per year.
– Winter deaths will continue to decline as the climate warms.
Source: Department of Health, UK, UK