Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Climate Change and Health: Water-Borne Diseases

The Chicago skyline from a boat on Lake Michigan, as captured by christopherdale.

The posts in our climate change and health series have been discussing the range of consequences climate change may have on human health.

Increased precipitation could cause flooding & lead to water supply contamination, spreading water-borne diseases such as cholera & parasitic illnesses.

A report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in October 2008 predicts increased risk for water-borne illness around the Great Lakes, potentially affecting 40 million people, due to an increase in climate-related extreme rainfall that could overwhelm storm water and sewage systems, potentially diverting raw sewage to Lake Michigan - a key source of drinking water.

While some regions will be effected by extreme precipitation, others will experience drought. These drier conditions can also spread water-borne illness as a single infected source could be shared by more people than usual.

This is Part 6 of 7 in our Climate Change and Health series.
Part 1 - Climate Change and Health
Part 2 - Heat-Related Issues
Part 3 - Malaria
Part 4 - Lyme Disease
Part 5 - Mental Health
Part 6 - Water-borne Disease
Part 7 - Extreme Weather Events


  1. Hi, again. This isn't exactly on topic, but I read a blog post today (http://news.health.com/2009/05/11/climate-change-could-sting-allergy-asthma-sufferers/) that discusses research about how climate change may result in prolonged allergy season, and/or exacerbate asthma.

  2. It's definitely related though. For more on how climate change is going to affect people's breathing you can also take a look at Emily's post on heat-related issues.