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Report shows climate change impacts on health

A Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) report says climate change is impacting health in its region.

The Protecting Health in a Climate Emergency report used multiple data sources and analyzed how climate change affects the health of the communities they serve, including Powell River and Sechelt.

The biggest impacts are extreme heat, wildfires and smoke, drought, flooding, storms, and ecosystems.

VCH Chief medical officer Dr. Patricia Daly says there is no community within their region that isn’t at risk of harm from climate change.

“What we found however, is that the risks are different for each community, depending on both geography and on the demographics of the population,” said Daly.

The report shows during the heat dome in 2021, 145 of the 619 people who died were from the coastal health region. Similar heat events are expected to pop up every 5 to 10 years by 2040.

Because of climate change, wildfires will continue to go up in severity, which has damaged hunting grounds, fishing grounds, trap lines, trapper’s cabins, and burial sites for indigenous communities.

Wildfire smoke is the leading cause of poor air quality exposure throughout the region.

For drinking water systems, smaller communities are at risk of failure after a drought or flood.

The health authority has 17 recommendations to deal with climate change including more infrastructure for cool housing spaces, strengthening direct supports, supporting first-nations led efforts, implementing policies for extreme heat events, and protecting indoor air from smoke.

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