WH Warns of Deaths from 'Extreme Heat' as Weather Service Issues April Snow Advisories

By Barbara Hollingsworth | April 4, 2016 | 2:42pm EDT
Depot Street in Pittsfield, Mass. on Monday, April 4, 2016 as Southern New England gets hits by a second round of April snow. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House published a report Monday warning that “extreme heat can be expected to cause an increase in the number of premature deaths”--the same day the National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for April snowstorms.

“From children to the elderly, every American is vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change, now and in the future,” said administration's report.

It was released by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and John Holdren, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the same day the National Weather Service predicted “another round of wintry precipitation” for the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region that could dump up to 10 inches of snow on upstate New York.

Southern New England also remained under a Winter Weather Advisory until 8 pm on Monday with sub-freezing temperatures and up to six inches of snow predicted for some areas.

Another April snowstorm with 60 mph winds slammed into Massachusetts on Sunday, killing two people and downing power lines for tens of thousands of residents.

“As the climate continues to change, the risks to human health will grow, exacerbating existing health threats and creating new public health challenges, and impacting more people in more places,” according to the report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

According to The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, “climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people.”

The report states that “increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases lead to an increase of both average and extreme temperatures…

“Days that are hotter than the average seasonal temperature in the summer or colder than the average seasonal temperature in the winter cause increased levels of illness and death by compromising the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or by inducing direct or indirect health complications.”

Snow cover in Northern Hemisphere on April 3, 2016. (Rutgers Global Snow Lab)

The report predicts that climate change will increase the incidence of air pollution, allergens that cause asthma, vector-borne diseases such as Lyme and West Nile virus, water- and food-borne illnesses, and premature deaths in the U.S. in addition to “disrupting infrastructure, including power, water, transportation and communication systems that are essential to maintain access to health care and emergency response services and safeguarding human health.”

“Mental health consequences of climate change range from minimal stress and distress symptoms to clinical disorders, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicide thoughts and behaviors,” the White House warned.

Climate change will have a “disproportionate effect” on low-income and communities of color, immigrants with limited English proficiency, Native Americans, pregnant women and children, senior citizens, outdoor workers, U.S. military personnel, search and rescue workers, the disabled, and those with chronic medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and psychiatric problems, it added.

The administration also announced that May 23-27 would be designated as Extreme Heat Week.

“The White House is planning a webinar during Extreme Heat Week focused on education and outreach to populations more vulnerable to extreme heat as well as to community planners and public health officials to enhance community preparedness to extreme heat events,” the White House added. 

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