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Climate change, drought and human health in Canada

Yusa, A., Berry, P., Cheng, J., Ogden, N., Bonsal, B.R., Stewart, R., and Waldick, R.C. (2015). "Climate change, drought and human health in Canada.", International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(7), pp. 8359-8412. doi : 10.3390/ijerph120708359  Access to full text


© 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Droughts have been recorded all across Canada and have had significant impacts on individuals and communities. With climate change, projections suggest an increasing risk of drought in Canada, particularly in the south and interior. However, there has been little research on the impacts of drought on human health and the implications of a changing climate. A review of the Canadian, U.S. and international literature relevant to the Canadian context was conducted to better define these impacts and adaptations available to protect health. Drought can impact respiratory health, mental health, illnesses related to exposure to toxins, food/water security, rates of injury and infectious diseases (including food-, water- and vector-borne diseases). A range of direct and indirect adaptation (e.g., agricultural adaptation) options exist to cope with drought. Many have already been employed by public health officials, such as communicable disease monitoring and surveillance and public education and outreach. However, gaps exist in our understanding of the impacts of short-term vs. prolonged drought on the health of Canadians, projections of drought and its characteristics at the regional level and the effectiveness of current adaptations. Further research will be critical to inform adaptation planning to reduce future drought-related risks to health.

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