The health risks associated with Utah temperatures

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah(News4Utah) The potential for climate change can cause problems for your health. So what does that mean for you? Dr. Royal Delegge, PhD, the Director of Environmental Health at the Salt Lake County Health Department has the answer.

Dr. Delegge says our region here in the west is warming at TWICE the average global rate. This is causing us to experience more frequent and longer heat waves, have a record number of daily high temperatures, and means our average nightly low temperatures are at record high, which doesn’t allow us to recover at night from the heat of the day.

Exposure to extreme heat causes health issues, especially for seniors and children, that strain our medical resources.

  1. Water availability: in the west, our concerns are water scarcity, quality, and flooding. We expect more rain and less snow, and less snow equals less potable water that is captured in our reservoirs. Higher temperatures also drive more need for water, for both humans and agriculture.
  2. Air quality: more heat means more ground-level ozone, which causes health problems such as higher allergen levels, cancer, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, headaches, etc.

Warmer temperatures also encourage more insects, which can transmit more communicable diseases.

So what can you do? Dr. Delegge says to conserve resources (water, power) and reduce waste (use less, repurpose waste, recycle when possible).

The Salt Lake County Health Department is partnering with the National Weather Service and Salt Lake County Surveyor’s Office to monitor “heat index” and issue warnings. They are also educating residents about these issues and holding an annual Climate and Health Conference.

This year it’s on April 25 and 26 at Jordan Valley Water Conservancy’s Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan. The conference is free and open to the public. Go to SaltLakeHealth.org to register.

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