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Local Health Officials Recognize Threat of Global Warming
Date:4/24/2008

But survey finds many aren't prepared to tackle the problem in coming decades

THURSDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- While most public health department officials in the United States take the health threat of global warming seriously, the majority say they aren't prepared to confront the problem, a new survey shows.

Sixty percent of local health department directors said they believed that consequences of global warming -- in the form of heat waves, food and water contamination, increased mosquito-borne illness, and poor air quality -- would ultimately give rise to one or more serious health problems in their locality over the next 20 years.

However, 82 percent said they lacked the know-how to plan for such problems, while 77 percent said they needed more resources to improve their ability to do so.

The survey was co-sponsored by the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO), the Environmental Defense Fund, and George Mason University in Virginia, and the results were included in a broader report titled Are We Ready? Preparing for the Public Health Challenges of Climate Change. The full report was released Thursday, during a teleconference held by all three organizations.

"While most health directors have programs in existence to protect the public, they still felt they had a long way to go to meet the challenge of climate change," NACCHO spokesman Dr. A. Dennis McBride said during the teleconference. McBride is the director of health for the city of Milford, Conn.

He was joined at the conference by report lead author Dr. John Balbus, the Environmental Defense Fund's director of environmental health programs, and Ed Maibach, professor and director of George Mason's Center of Excellence in Climate Change Communication Research.

All three focused on the need for local health departments to prepare for climate-associated health perils, such as extreme heat,
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