August is Water Quality Month

#ClimateChangesHealth

Year of Climate Change and Health

When we think about climate change, we are used to thinking about water quantity — drought, flooding, extreme rainfall and things along those lines. Climate change is just as tightly linked to issues related to water quality, and it's not enough for the water to just be there, it has to be sustainable." -- Anna Michalak, professor of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, in The New York Times.

Join our Aug. 30 Twitter Chat, "What's in Your Water: The State of Water and Our Health"

Water is a necessity of human life, and everyone deserves access to clean and safe water. After all, humans are made up of approximately 60 percent water. Unfortunately, climate change jeopardizes the quality and safety of our water. Warmer weather causes more water to evaporate, allowing the air to hold more water. This sets the stage for heavier rainfall and flooding, which decreases the quality of our water and increases health risks.

  • Flooding: Climate change can lead to heavier rainfall and increased flooding. Flood waters can be comprised of a variety of harmful contaminants. In some cases, floods can overhaul a region’s drainage or wastewater treatment systems, increasing our risk of exposure to bacteria, parasites and other unhealthy toxins. This can contaminate the water we drink along with crops and other food we eat.
  • Warmer Waters: As the earth’s temperature rises, surface water temperatures in lakes and oceans also rise. Warmer waters create a more hospitable environment for some harmful algae and other microbes to grow. Some algae produce toxins that are harmful when ingested. Not only does this contaminate our water, but also the fish we eat.

Access to clean water is a fundamental human right, yet some communities bear an inequitable burden of unsafe water. Children are especially susceptible to waterborne illness because they take in more water per body weight than adults, and their organ systems are still developing. Elderly people may be less resilient because many have preexisting chronic diseases that cause their immune system to be weakened. The aging infrastructure of our water system leaves low-income communities at higher risk of exposure as those communities may not have resources available to fix the problem. Our flood protection infrastructure must also be equipped to protect all communities. Consider Hurricane Katrina as an example: it was not the hurricane itself that resulted in mass destruction, but the flooding that led to property damage, injury and mold infestation/growth.

Read the Public Health Newswire post, The State of Water in a Changing Climate*

Read the Public Health Newswire post, Water Access in the United States*

(*blog posts only represent the views of the author)

Tweet about Water Quality month.

Follow the conversation using the hashtag #ClimateChangesHealth.

YEAR OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND HEALTH MONTHLY THEMES

Month  Theme
January Introduction to the Year of Climate Change and Health
February Climate Justice and Health
March Clean Energy
April Transportation and Healthy Community Design
May Air Quality, Lung and Heart Health
June Mental Wellness and Resilience
July Agriculture and Food Safety and Security
August Water Quality
September Extreme Weather
October Vulnerable Populations, Focus on Children
November  Tribal and Indigenous Health
December Co-benefits
EVENTS

Year of Climate Change and Health Calendar of Events (PDF) 

Have a climate and health event you'd like us to add to the calendar? Please email us

PARTNERS

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HELPFUL RESOURCES

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AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH ARTICLES
APHA CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY STATEMENTS

Fact sheets on Climate Change

estreme heat

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