Preparing for the Public Health Impacts of Climate Change

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Michigan Climate & Health Adaptation Program (MICHAP)

In 2009, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) was awarded a one-year planning grant from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a strategic plan for responding to public health effects of climate change in Michigan. The planning process involved Michigan's local health departments, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and several other state agencies and non-profit organizations. The final strategic plan focused on three priority areas for implementing climate change public health adaptations: Heat events, air quality, and water quality and quantity.

In 2010, MDHHS received a three-year grant from CDC to implement the strategic plan and participate in building a national "climate-ready states and cities" program. Part of the implementation plan is working with partners to educate the public about the health effects of climate change and have human health issues considered in state activities involving climate change. MDHHS is working to incorporate climate change considerations into public health activities such as emergency planning, healthy communities, and communicable disease control. Another important part of this project is to develop methods to quantify health effects attributable to climate change and design population vulnerability assessments. 

With continued support from CDC, the MDHHS was one of ten state health departments to receive another three-year grant in 2013 that will fund MICHAP to continue its work to address the public health consequences of climate change in Michigan through use of the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework. MICHAP's work will consists of 1) generating a Michigan climate and health profile and vulnerability assessment; 2) forecasting the disease burden expected due to future climate changes; 3)assessing the suitability and effectiveness of interventions for reducing this burden; 4) updating and implementing the state public health adaptation plan, and 5) evaluating our program and activities to improve public health practice.

Climate Change Events Projected for Michigan: 

  • Increasing number of heat events leading to increased heat-related illness and death.
  • Declining air quality, as a result of increased production of ozone and particulate matter from heat and drought events leading to increased asthma and respiratory illness.
  • Adverse changes to water quality and quantity following increased rainfall or drought leading to increased waterborne and foodborne illness.

Public Health Impacts:

  • Rising incidence of certain infectious diseases and outbreaks of new diseases not currently endemic to Michigan.
  • Increasing number of disease vectors and appearance of new vectors not currently known in Michigan.
  • Degradation of food safety and security and food supply.
  • Increased number of heat-related illness and death.

MICHAP Resources

Process Evaluation - Michigan Climate and Health Adaptation Program 2010-2013
Indicators of the Potential Effects of Climate Change on Public Health: Michigan Results, 2011
Climate & Health Program Strategic Plan

Learn More about MICHAP 

What You Should Know about Climate Change
Mapping Heat Vulnerability in Michigan

Health Data
During the winter and summer months, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' - Regional Epidemiologists monitor heat and cold-related emergency department visits using the Michigan Syndromic Surveillance System.  This system is used for early detection of heat-related illnesses and cold-related injury to mobilize a rapid response if needed, thereby reducing morbidity and mortality among residents.  Check out heat and cold-related illness data below:

MI Heat-Related Illness, Emergency Department Visits: 6/25/13
MI Heat-Related Illness, Emergency Department Visits: 7/2/13
MI Heat-Related Illness, Emergency Department Visits: 7/8/13
MI Heat-Related Illness, Emergency Department Visits: 7/18/13
MI Heat-Related Illness, Emergency Department Visits: 7/29/13
MI Heat-Related Illness, Emergency Department Visits: 8/12/13
MI Heat-Related Illness, Emergency Department Visits: 8/26/13
MI Heat-Related Illness, Emergency Department Visits: 9/4/13

Michigan Heat Summary, Summer 2013
MI Cold-Injury Emergency Department Visits: 1/7/2014
MI Cold-Injury Emergency Department Visits: 1/30/2014

Climate & Health News Watch
The Climate & Health Program compiles and distributes its newsletter, Climate & Health News Watch, on a quarterly basis.  The newsletter contains articles and important information on the following public health topics.

Climate & Health News 9/2013
Climate & Health News 10/2012
Climate & Health News 1/2014

To receive the Climate & Health News Watch electronically, email to 

Protect Yourself from Extreme Summer Heat
The best defense from extreme heat is prevention.  Here are some prevention resources.

MICHAP Builds Capacity for "Health Impact Assessment" in Michigan

Check out how communities have used Health Impact Assessments funded by MICHAP.

Ingham County Health Department, Lansing, MI
A Health Impact Assessment of Non-Motorized Improvements in East Lansing

Ingham County Health Department in partnership with Public Sector Consultants evaluated options for climate sustainability and environmental benefits by conducting an HIA of key-motorized transportation elements of the City of East Lansing's draft Climate Sustainability Plan and Non-Motorized Transportation Plan.
Read the Full Report

City of Grand Rapids (Planning), Grand Rapids, MI 
Michigan Street Corridor Plan: A Health Impact Assessment
The City of Grand Rapids Planning Department in partnership with Kent County Health Department evaluated three development scenarios of the Michigan Street Corridor to alleviate traffic congestion, accommodate additional land development, ensure access to housing and needed services for disadvantaged populations, and improve the physical health and wellbeing of the community.
Read the Full Report

City of Ann Arbor, Michigan
Expanding Urban Tree Canopy as a Community Health Climate Adaptation Strategy: A Health Impact Assessment of the Ann Arbor Urban Forest & Community Management Plan                                                                                    
MICHAP in partnership with the City of Ann Arbor conducted an HIA to examine the health and psychosocial benefits associated with targeting tree plantings to residential areas of Ann Arbor, Michigan with lower tree canopy and populations  vulnerable to both directly to extreme heat events and to health conditions affected by heat and tree canopy.  It is intended to inform the tree planting strategy of the City of Ann Arbor Urban Community Forestry Management Plan, by recommending priority neighborhoods for tree plantings.            
Read the Full Report 

Preparing & Responding to Natural Disasters
Information for the public and health departments. 

Climate Research in Michigan