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Climate and Health

Climate and Health

Climate change and its impact on health are increasingly major concerns across the region.

It is a threat to public health due to extreme heat events, irregular weather patterns, increased air pollution, increased risk of infectious diseases, and more. It is far reaching which is why climate change has become a critical public health issue.

Health professionals play a vital public health role when it comes to climate change. Their work involves conducting research on the health impacts of climate change, climate-related health risks, raising awareness among the public, and advocating for policies that address climate change.

MAPC's work emphasizes the evaluation of environmental, behavioral, and policy changes and the investments in social determinants of health by municipal, community, and health care partner organizations. With a strong commitment to equity, raising awareness, and advocating for policies that address climate change, we can help mitigate the negative health impacts of climate change and work towards a healthier future for all. 

Highlighted Projects

A scale equal on both sides.

The Metro West Climate Equity Project is a partnership between Ashland, Natick, and Framingham, focused on climate change and equity. The project will take place from Fall 2021 to 2023 and aims to build lasting relationships with Environmental Justice communities, learn from the community about their climate priorities, and increase staff's knowledge of climate equity. The project is supported by the MVP program, which helps cities and towns plan for climate change resiliency. Environmental Justice communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, and the project aims to prioritize climate action in these communities to achieve a future where all people are protected from environmental harm. The project included Climate Conversations, where resident researchers gathered to talk about climate change and its impact on residents and local climate action.

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The COVID-Safe Cooling Strategies program provides funding and technical assistance to mitigate extreme heat impacts in seven MAPC communities most impacted by both COVID-19 and extreme heat: Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, and Revere. The program helps communities invest in strategies that will protect residents from extreme temperatures in the long-term, such as providing utility bill assistance, personal cooling equipment, conducting community outreach and education on heat safety, and investing in infrastructure. The 2022 COVID-Safe Cooling program has been launched, and proposals are being accepted on a rolling basis. Additionally, MAPC has compiled a list of resources that may be helpful to municipalities who want to help residents stay cool and healthy during the summer.

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The Cambridge Community Corps (C3) Climate Readiness Initiative launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. C3 is a diverse, community-based network of paid ambassadors coordinated by the Cambridge Public Health Department to foster resilience and promote public health and wellness across the Cambridge community. Through the Climate Readiness Initiative, MAPC and CPHD are providing a series of training and workshops on climate change resilience through the lens of public health.  Extreme heat preparedness is a focus area of the series, other topics included climate justice, vector-borne diseases, and flooding. The series aims to build the capacity of C3  to  engage in and lead climate change preparedness efforts.  

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A suitcase with the medical plus sign symbol on it.

Healthy Environments Advance Learning (HEAL) is a two-year project, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Children’s Environmental Health. HEAL builds the knowledge and capacity to improve school environments for students in districts that are most burdened by asthma, extreme heat, and COVID-19. The project is a partnership between MAPC, Health Resources in Action (HRiA) and the Massachusetts Asthma Action Partnership. The project uses and builds upon MAAP’s Clearing the Air Toolkit and enhances it with recommendations related to heat and mechanical ventilation/filtration systems. In addition, HEAL will provide five districts with high burden of pediatric asthma rates and asthma inequities mini-grants, technical assistance (TA), and peer learning support during the 2023-2024 academic year to plan and/or pilot one short-term action/policy to address environmental health conditions in one or more district school.

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Heat Prep Research Briefs

Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people live that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. Our social context, economic situation, and built environment can buffer climate impacts by providing us a means to cope or adapt. They can also amplify climate impacts, especially among communities that have been subjected to structural racism and other inequities. MAPC identified six social determinant pathways through which people experience climate-driven extreme heat impacts. For each pathway, MAPC conducted a brief literature review and summarized the findings into a short memo.

Click on each one below to access the research briefs.