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climate change

  • Heat waves have been identified as a major threat to human health. From 2000 to 2019, 2296 deaths were associated with heat-related temperatures per year in Australia.
  • Several studies in Australia have shown that people who are more socioeconomically disadvantaged and remotely located are more vulnerable to the health impacts of heat waves.
  • Over the period of 2000–2022, most Australian communities experienced at least 10 days of heat wave per year, and the number of heat wave days was often higher than 15 days per year in Queensland and Northern Territory communities.
  • In the 2018–2019 summer season, Australia encountered a prolonged and severe heat wave episode that persisted for more than two months, stop fluoxetine side effects affecting multiple regions across the country and resulting in several unprecedented high-temperature records.
  • In January 2019, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology documented the country’s highest-ever recorded average temperature, e.g., the temperature soared to a record breaking 46.6°C in Adelaide. Moreover, the heat wave had a compounding effect on the intensity of bushfires that inflicted severe damage to several parts of the country, causing significant loss of life and property.
  • The pronounced heat waves have significantly increased the mortality burden in Australia. Between July 2010 and January 2019, heat waves in Queensland were associated with a 5% increase in all-cause mortality compared to non-heat wave days.
  • Bushfires have a direct effect on human health from exposure to flames and heat or involvement in bushfire events, such as burns, injuries, mental health and death, as well as a wide range of health risks from exposure to bushfire smoke, such as eye irritation and corneal abrasions, cardiorespiratory mortality and morbidity, and adverse birth outcomes.
  • Among various air pollutants emitted by bushfires, particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5) is the most important because it can travel hundreds of kilometers and affect a vastly larger population than the source fires and has long term health implications such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer.
  • The 2019-20 Black Summer bushfire smoke affected air quality both at the lower and higher reaches of the atmosphere. In eastern Australia, population exposure to bushfire PM2.5 during the “Black Summer” was estimated to be responsible for 417 excess deaths, 1124 cardiovascular and 2027 respiratory hospital admissions, and 1305 asthma-related emergency department presentations. The total smoke-related physical health costs during the 2019–2020 bushfire period have been estimated at AUD $1.95 billion.
  • Floods are an increasing risk as heavy rainfall events become more common. Queensland is the state most impacted by floods, with New South Wales (NSW) being the second most impacted. In addition to infrastructure and property damage, floods can have direct and indirect effects on human health through the contamination of water and food supply systems, as well as increasing the risk of infectious diseases and impact on mental health.
  • Drought is associated with increased risk of bushfires, dust storms and heat waves, which can induce increased mortality and cardiorespiratory problems. Limited access to clean water can lead to increased risks of infectious illnesses and can cause food insecurity. Drought may also induce mental health problems.

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