Climate Change Initiative
Environmental Health Assessment of Vulnerability to Heat Waves & Air Quality
The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) has been awarded a Center for Disease Control & Prevention grant for an Environmental Health Assessment of Vulnerability to Heat Waves & Air Quality. This grant will develop public health capacity and adaptations to reduce human health effects of climate change. The focus of our grant is on preventing heat stress morbidity and mortality from extreme heat events and associated air quality impacts, which are expected to increase in frequency and duration with climate change, and in which our Department has a lead role to develop the city’s heat wave disaster response plan.
San Francisco showed specific vulnerabilities during the 2006 California heat wave, due to our lack of physiologic and technologic adaptations for extreme heat events. For this reason, the SFDPH Environmental Health Section and Disaster Planning will develop an environmental health needs assessment methodology and a public health gaps analysis.
Main Project Goals
- Environmental Health will create and implement environmental health assessment methodology to map community determinants of heat vulnerability and validate the assessment through geographic and spatial technologies.
- Disaster Planning will produce a gap analysis of public health capacity and adaptations to reduce human health effects of climate change by utilizing national performance standards and the environmental health assessment.
- Disaster Planning, in collaboration with San Francisco Department of Emergency Management Services (SFDEM) will convene and co-chair an inter-agency task force to conduct strategic planning that will guide development of a City and County of San Francisco heat wave disaster response plan, appropriate surveillance and health education/outreach activities to protect San Franciscans, for public review by oversight entities and for public comment.
- SFDPH Environmental Health and Disaster Planning staff will engage community partners in review of draft strategic plan and design of a heat wave public education and outreach plan, with special attention to vulnerable populations, including those populations with known health disparities.
San Francisco Departmental Climate Working Group
Since 2008, SFDPH has participated in the City's Departmental Climate Working Group, with representation from the Program on Health, Equity and Sustainability, San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), and Laguna Honda Hospital. This Working Group is comprised of representatives from City departments and coordinated by the Mayor's Office of Climate Protection Initiatives and the Department of the Environment. Climate Working Group members are tasked with creating Departmental Climate Action Plans, as stipulated in the San Francisco Environment Code (updated May 2008). Specific Plan elements include assessing greenhouse gas emissions for the Department in collaboration with the Department of the Environment and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and identifying and making recommendation on greenhouse gas emission reduction measures applicable to (i) operations of the department and other City greenhouse gas emission sources within its jurisdiction, and (ii) private sector greenhouse gas emission sources regulated by the department. The Plans also identify potential costs of identified measures and the estimated potential benefits of elements in the plan for reducing greenhouse gases, as well as identify other economic and non-economic impacts to the City's economy and environment - including health impacts. Recent SFDPH Plan activities have also included focused efforts to support sustainable transportation at SFGH, in support of SFGH efforts to reduce transportation impacts of the San Francisco General Hospital Rebuild, the SFDPH Departmental Climate Action Plan, and San Francisco’s Transit First Policy.