According to multiple studies on heat, extreme cold, hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires, people of color are at higher risk of climate-related health impacts than whites.
The study also found evidence of racial disparities related to climatic changes concerning mortality, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, mental health, and heat-related illness.
Furthermore, children are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change, and infants and children of color have experienced adverse perinatal outcomes, occupational heat stress, and increases in emergency department visits associated with extreme weather.
Evidence from the study shows that climate change is detrimental to the health of people of color, along with affecting health outcomes and increasing existing disparities.
Climate change has caused rising temperatures across the US; while average temperatures have risen, extreme heat events have increased across the board.
This study found that from 1999 to 2017, all ages of American Indians/Native Alaskans and Black people had higher mortality rates from excessive heat, followed by Latinos, whites, and Asians/Pacific Islanders.
According to this American Journal of Industrial Medicine study, people of color suffer more significant heat-related illnesses due to their profession, such as heat stroke, heat rash, or exhaustion. Also, Black people and Hispanics have shown higher rates of mental health issues due to extreme weather compared to whites.
Climate Change & Health in Texas
According to this study, minority communities in Harrison County had two themes:
The abstract of the study focused on successive disaster events like Hurricane Harvey and Winter Storm Uri, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what it meant for the citizens of Harrison County.
Elsewhere in Texas, persistently higher temperatures are causing more public health problems than usual. Heat stroke has become much more common while the number of days and hours workers can perform their duties outdoors has decreased.
From 2010 to 2020, 53 workers died from heat stroke in Texas, which is double the previous decade. According to Columbia Journalism Investigation and NPR, a quarter of heat-related deaths in the state occurred when the high temperature for the day exceeded 40-year historical averages.
Gabriel Collins, a Baker Botts fellow in energy and environmental affairs at Rice University, says, “If you have situations where more parts of the state are pulling from lower reservoirs, rivers that are flowing less and warmer water temperatures, there’s a real concern about what pathogens end up in [the water] system.”
A brain-eating amoeba was found in Lake Jackson’s water supply in 2020, which killed a six-year-old girl.
Higher heat and heavier than usual precipitation are causing problems with underground water pipes, in turn causing more frequent water supply interruptions. These issues add to public health problems and worsen the disparities Texans face.