Climate, Environment, And Public Health In Western North Carolina

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Maggie Sugg, Assistant Professor (Creator)
Lauren Andersen, GIS Lab Supervisor & Adjunct Instructor (Contributor)
Elizabeth Shay, Associate Professor (Contributor)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: The frequency and severity of extreme weather events are expected to increase in the context of a changing climate. Populations across the globe are vulnerable and already experiencing the health effects of a changing climate. Western North Carolina (WNC) is no exception. The last decade was the warmest ever on record. This past year, 2019, broke historical records in North Carolina, and temperature anomalies in WNC largely drove this pattern. The indirect and direct effects of climate on human health are complicated and modulated by underlying social vulnerabilities that enhance the severity and sensitivity of population exposure to climate hazards. In this paper, we discuss the complex pathways through which climate hazards impact health in WNC and the on-going efforts among the academic and public health community to address these emerging climate-related health threats. Specifically, we highlight the changing patterns in (1) temperature-related disease, (2) vector-borne disease, (3) natural hazards, (4) mental health impacts and the (5) built environment. Lastly, we identify important research needs and partnerships required to motivate effective and meaningful engagement with the public and policymakers around the regional impacts of climate change on human health, potential solutions, and co-benefits of resilience planning in WNC.

Additional Information

Sugg, M., Andersen, L., Shay, E., Tyson, J., & Runkle, J. (2021). Climate, Environment, and Public Health in Western North Carolina, The Journal of the Blue Cross NC Institute for Health & Human Services: Sustainable Health. Appalachian State University. V. 1, March 23, 2021. NC Docks permission to re-print granted by author(s). Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2021
Western North Carolina, climate, environment, disease, extreme weather, public health, North Carolina, climate change

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