Vermont Climate and Health Program

Lead Organization: Vermont Department of Health

Program Name: Vermont Climate and Health Program

Summary: The Vermont Climate and Health Program addresses key climate-related health risks in Vermont including heat illnesses, poor air quality and allergenic pollen, vector-borne diseases, water-borne diseases, cyanobacteria, mental health impacts, and extreme weather events, such as flooding and storms. While all Vermonters are at risk for climate-related health impacts, the program focuses on mitigating health impacts for especially high-risk populations including older adults, low income households, and residents with pre-existing health conditions. Some of the program’s main adaptation activities include increasing hot weather preparedness, promoting home weatherization, and providing energy-saving shade trees. Many of the program’s activities help to provide health co-benefits as part of statewide climate mitigation efforts focused on the transportation, housing, forestry, and energy sectors.

Hot weather impacts on health were identified as one of the top concerns in Vermont’s Climate and Health Profile Report. A detailed heat analysis demonstrated that the risk for heat illnesses and deaths in Vermont increases steeply as temperatures climb into the mid-to-upper 80s. The program also created a “heat vulnerability index” that assesses the risk for heat illnesses in each Vermont town and city based on historic rates of heat illnesses along with contributing demographic, socioeconomic, health, environmental, and climate factors. In response, the Climate and Health Program is working with many partners around the state to raise awareness of hot weather risks and to improve preparedness and emergency response systems. One population at particularly high risk in Vermont is older adults and people with chronic health conditions or disabilities living alone and without air conditioning. To help address these risks, the program supports adaptation efforts such as providing shade trees in urbanized areas of Vermont and partnering with the state’s home weatherization program to help reduce hot housing conditions, both of which provide many additional health and energy co-benefits.

Climate-Ready State funded since 2012

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Page last reviewed: September 20, 2019