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SF Health Network
Environmental Health

Climate and Health Program

In 2010, the San Francisco Department of Public Health was awarded funding from the CDC to participate in the Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative. The goal of the program is to help states and cities develop ways to anticipate health effects of climate change by applying climate science, predicting health impacts, and preparing flexible programs. The focus of our work for this initiative has been preventing heat stress morbidity and mortality from extreme heat events and associated air quality impacts, which are expected to increase in frequency and duration with climate change. For more information on our Climate and Health program, visit the Program on Health, Equity and Sustainability website.

San Francisco showed specific vulnerabilities during the 2006 California heat wave, due to our lack of physiologic and technologic adaptations for extreme heat events. For this reason, the SFDPH Environmental Health Section developed the Heat Vulnearbility Index, which geographically predicts high risk areas during an extreme heat event (click on the map to the right to view heat vulnerability in San Francisco).

Main Project Outcomes

  • Performed an environmental health assessment to map community determinants of heat vulnerability and validated the assessment through geographic and spatial technologies.
  • Disaster Planning and Environmental Health produced a gap analysis of public health capacity and adaptations to reduce human health effects of climate change by utilizing national performance standards and the environmental health assessment.
  • Disaster Planning, in collaboration with San Francisco Department of Emergency Management Services (SFDEM) convened and co-chaired an inter-agency task force to conduct strategic planning that developed a City and County of San Francisco heat wave disaster response plan, appropriate surveillance and health education/outreach activities to protect San Franciscans.

Next Steps

SFDPH, in conjunction with the Office of the City Administrator, has been awarded funding for the next three years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue our Climate and Health work. With this funding, we will continue to assess climate trends, define disease burden, develop specific intervention methods, and evaluate effects of change for at-risk populations within San Francisco. In partnership with the Office of the City Administrator and our many stakeholders, we will promote community resilience through education, empowerment and engagement to reduce the health impacts to climate change.