Health effects

Climate change has an impact on human health. Some of the consequences are positive, but the majority of the effects necessitate adaptations that compensate for the negative consequences. This is primarily because society, the population and ecosystems are adapted to today's colder climate.

A reduction in the number of extremely cold winter days will have positive consequences in the form of a reduction in the number of deaths and fewer people falling ill with cardiovascular problems. 

On the other hand, more and more intense heatwaves will increase the number of deaths in summer time. The high-risk groups are people suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory problems, young children and the elderly, especially those who spend a lot of time indoors when the indoor temperatures may be significantly higher due to the building and ventilation not being adapted to a warmer climate. The health risks of high temperatures are further exacerbated by air pollution. 

Information for high-risk groups is important, as is adapting indoor temperatures in old people's homes, hospitals and other care facilities. Aside from reducing the warming effect, green spaces in the urban environment often also have other positive health effects. The provide shade and reduce the temperature of the city. The placement of buildings in relation to the sun is also important.

Plan for water management

Sweden will have increased precipitation from autumn to spring and more episodes of torrential rain. This can result in floods and landslides in high-risk areas and can lead to important public services such as ambulance transport, home-help services, water purification and heating being knocked out if adaptations are not put in place. Torrential rain and increased flooding may also lead to toxic substances from surface runoff, industrial ground and landfill leaking into surface water sources, as is the case for infectious agents from livestock, fields and sewage. 

In Stockholm, for example, the majority of water sources are on the surface and the county also has a large number of private wells. This makes the region vulnerable to these changes. The protected areas around water sources need to be updated based on the new conditions for pollutants and the spread of infections that changes to water levels and patterns of spread may create.

Spread of infection

The risk of infections spreading increases during warmer summers, when more people are outdoors swimming more frequently. Wound infections caused by vibrio bacteria in water used for swimming is a new problem that emerged in the area around the Baltic Sea in the 2000s. These bacteria only increase in number in higher water temperatures. Higher water temperatures also increase the risk of toxic algal blooms.

Warm summers also require better hygiene when preparing food and that the correct temperature is maintained during both transport and commercial and private storage. 

The length and climate of the seasons will change dramatically. This affects pollen-producing species and the risk of what are known as vector-borne diseases. This means that the infectious agent is transmitted by animals, e.g. rodents, birds, foxes and insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. The high-risk season for Lyme disease and TBE may increase by up to four months by the end of the century. A changed climate may mean that new disease-carrying insects will survive.

Cooperation between sectors

In order to both analyse the consequences and vulnerabilities and develop adaptations, there will need to be cooperation between the health sector and other sectors and functions of society such as agriculture and livestock farming, veterinary medicine, the water and sewerage sector, the construction sector, urban planning, the transport sector and the energy sector.