Populations of concern

By: , and 



Climate change is already causing, and is expected to continue to cause, a range of health impacts that vary across different population groups in the United States. The vulnerability of any given group is a function of its sensitivity to climate change related health risks, its exposure to those risks, and its capacity for responding to or coping with climate variability and change. Vulnerable groups of people, described here as populations of concern, include those with low income, some communities of color, immigrant groups (including those with limited English proficiency), Indigenous peoples, children and pregnant women, older adults, vulnerable occupational groups, persons with disabilities, and persons with preexisting or chronic medical conditions. Planners and public health officials, politicians and physicians, scientists and social service providers are tasked with understanding and responding to the health impacts of climate change. Collectively, their characterization of vulnerability should consider how populations of concern experience disproportionate, multiple, and complex risks to their health and well-being in response to climate change.

Some groups face a number of stressors related to both climate and non-climate factors. For example, people living in impoverished urban or isolated rural areas, floodplains, coastlines, and other at-risk locations are more vulnerable not only to extreme weather and persistent climate change but also to social and economic stressors. Many of these stressors can occur simultaneously or consecutively. Over time, this “accumulation” of multiple, complex stressors is expected to become more evident1 as climate impacts interact with stressors associated with existing mental and physical health conditions and with other socioeconomic and demographic factors.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Populations of concern
Chapter 9
DOI 10.7930/J0Q81B0T
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Global Change Research Program
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 40 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Other Government Series
Larger Work Title The impacts of climate change on human health in the Untited States: A scientific assessment
First page 247
Last page 286
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details