Minnesota Climate & Health Program

Lead Organization: Minnesota Department of Health

Program Name: Minnesota Climate & Health Program

Minnesota’s climate is changing with serious consequences for human health and well-being. Minnesota is experiencing an increase in warmer, wetter conditions as well as an increase in extreme weather events and climate-related disasters. With climate change intensifying, the Minnesota Climate & Health Program focuses on improving Minnesota’s ability to protect public health and prevent further harms from climate change. Some of the health impacts that the program is most concerned about include injury and death from extreme weather events, including heat waves and floods; diseases from changing tick and mosquito populations; illnesses from drinking or swimming in contaminated water from increased runoff and floods; heart and lung impacts from unhealthy air due to wildfire smoke, ozone, fine particulate matter, mold, and pollen; and mental health impacts from extreme weather events and long-term climate changes.

The program protects public health by engaging, informing, and guiding health and climate champions throughout the state to create healthy, equitable, and resilient communities. Key partners include state and local public health professionals, other state agencies, emergency preparedness professionals, built environment professionals, and municipal planners. One way the program works with these partners and other stakeholders is to educate about the health impacts of a changing climate through trainings and communication materials. For example, a seven-part climate and health training was released in 2018 along with companion educational materials. The educational series offers an opportunity to focus the climate narrative on public health and provides a deep dive on climate and health in Minnesota, including agriculture and food security, air quality, extreme heat, water changes, well-being, and vector-borne diseases.

The program also researches the unique public health impacts of climate change in Minnesota. As a way to help planners and decision-makers in emergency management and related fields understand regional climate trends, the program co-developed climate and health data profiles in 2019. The profiles are tailored to each of the six Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) regions across the state, acting as a framework for discussing projected local risks related to our changing climate and supporting the development of climate adaptation strategies that protect community health and safety.

In addition, the program builds capacity with partners by developing tools and products to help them champion health in climate adaptation strategies. For example, the program developed an Extreme Heat Toolkit to guide local jurisdictions in responding to heat events along with an Extreme Heat Tips sheet that identifies the steps Minnesotans should take to prevent heat-related illnesses. The program is focused on protecting public health by resonating with the hearts and minds of influencers to build a culture of health and climate action, conducting credible and innovative research to facilitate climate health and climate in all policies, and providing tools and products that accelerate health and climate adaptation solutions.

Climate-Ready State funded since 2010

To learn more, please visit: https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/climate/external icon

Relevant Links:

Contact information:  health.climatechange@state.mn.us

Page last reviewed: September 20, 2019