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      Health Effects of Coastal Storms and Flooding in Urban Areas: A Review and Vulnerability Assessment

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          Abstract

          Coastal storms can take a devastating toll on the public's health. Urban areas like New York City (NYC) may be particularly at risk, given their dense population, reliance on transportation, energy infrastructure that is vulnerable to flood damage, and high-rise residential housing, which may be hard-hit by power and utility outages. Climate change will exacerbate these risks in the coming decades. Sea levels are rising due to global warming, which will intensify storm surge. These projections make preparing for the health impacts of storms even more important. We conducted a broad review of the health impacts of US coastal storms to inform climate adaptation planning efforts, with a focus on outcomes relevant to NYC and urban coastal areas, and incorporated some lessons learned from recent experience with Superstorm Sandy. Based on the literature, indicators of health vulnerability were selected and mapped within NYC neighborhoods. Preparing for the broad range of anticipated effects of coastal storms and floods may help reduce the public health burden from these events.

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          Most cited references98

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          Effects of cold weather on mortality: results from 15 European cities within the PHEWE project.

          Weather-related health effects have attracted renewed interest because of the observed and predicted climate change. The authors studied the short-term effects of cold weather on mortality in 15 European cities. The effects of minimum apparent temperature on cause- and age-specific daily mortality were assessed for the cold season (October-March) by using data from 1990-2000. For city-specific analysis, the authors used Poisson regression and distributed lag models, controlling for potential confounders. Meta-regression models summarized the results and explored heterogeneity. A 1 degrees C decrease in temperature was associated with a 1.35% (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16, 1.53) increase in the daily number of total natural deaths and a 1.72% (95% CI: 1.44, 2.01), 3.30% (95% CI: 2.61, 3.99), and 1.25% (95% CI: 0.77, 1.73) increase in cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular deaths, respectively. The increase was greater for the older age groups. The cold effect was found to be greater in warmer (southern) cities and persisted up to 23 days, with no evidence of mortality displacement. Cold-related mortality is an important public health problem across Europe. It should not be underestimated by public health authorities because of the recent focus on heat-wave episodes.
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            Trends in mental illness and suicidality after Hurricane Katrina.

            A representative sample of 815 pre-hurricane residents of the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina was interviewed 5-8 months after the hurricane and again 1 year later as the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group (CAG). The follow-up survey was carried out to study patterns-correlates of recovery from hurricane-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), broader anxiety-mood disorders and suicidality. The Trauma Screening Questionnaire screening scale of PTSD and the K6 screening scale of anxiety-mood disorders were used to generate DSM-IV prevalence estimates. Contrary to results in other disaster studies, where post-disaster mental disorder typically decreases with time, prevalence increased significantly in the CAG for PTSD (20.9 vs 14.9% at baseline), serious mental illness (SMI; 14.0 vs 10.9%), suicidal ideation (6.4 vs 2.8%) and suicide plans (2.5 vs 1.0%). The increases in PTSD-SMI were confined to respondents not from the New Orleans Metropolitan Area, while the increases in suicidal ideation-plans occurred both in the New Orleans sub-sample and in the remainder of the sample. Unresolved hurricane-related stresses accounted for large proportions of the inter-temporal increases in SMI (89.2%), PTSD (31.9%) and suicidality (61.6%). Differential hurricane-related stress did not explain the significantly higher increases among respondents from areas other than New Orleans, though, as this stress was both higher initially and decreased less among respondents from the New Orleans Metropolitan Area than from other areas affected by the hurricane. Outcomes were only weakly related to socio-demographic variables, meaning that high prevalence of hurricane-related mental illness remains widely distributed in the population nearly 2 years after the hurricane.
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              Temperature extremes and health: impacts of climate variability and change in the United States.

              We evaluated temperature-related morbidity and mortality for the 2007 U.S. national assessment on impacts of climate change and variability on human health. We assessed literature published since the 2000 national assessment, evaluating epidemiologic studies, surveys, and studies projecting future impacts. Under current climate change projections, heat waves and hot weather are likely to increase in frequency, with the overall temperature distribution shifting away from the colder extremes. Vulnerable subgroups include communities in the northeastern and Midwestern U.S.; urban populations, the poor, the elderly, children, and those with impaired health or limited mobility. Temperature extremes and variability will remain important determinants of health in the United States under climate change. Research needs include estimating exposure to temperature extremes; studying nonfatal temperature-related illness; uniform criteria for reporting heat-related health outcomes; and improving effectiveness of urban heat island reduction and extreme weather response plans.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Environ Public Health
                J Environ Public Health
                JEPH
                Journal of Environmental and Public Health
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                1687-9805
                1687-9813
                2013
                30 May 2013
                : 2013
                Affiliations
                1Bureau of Environmental Surveillance and Policy, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY 10013, USA
                2Bureau of Environmental Disease Prevention, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY 10013, USA
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Sabit Cakmak

                Article
                10.1155/2013/913064
                3683478
                23818911
                ab17d34d-df46-4a1d-8a80-361bbcfa2d86
                Copyright © 2013 Kathryn Lane et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Review Article

                Public health
                Public health

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