John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Climate change and population health: towards an interdisciplinary research agenda Volume 21, issue 4, July-August 2022


  • Figure 1.
  • Figure 2.
1 Sorbonne Université, Inserm, Institut Pierre Louis d’épidémiologie et de santé publique (IPLESP), équipe Nemesis, faculté de médecine, Saint-Antoine, 27, rue Chaligny, 75012 Paris, France, <>
2 Équipe d’épidémiologie environnementale appliquée au développement et à la santé respiratoire, Inserm, CNRS et Université Grenoble-Alpes, Institut pour l’avancée des biosciences, Site santé, Allée des Alpes, 38700 La Tronche, France, <>
Tirés à part : B. Chaix

Climate change influences health by direct and indirect effects. Beyond dehydration, hyperthermia, and effects on the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems, high temperatures are associated with increased mortality, accidents at work, suicides, domestic violence, and assaults. Urban heat islands amplify the health effects of heat waves. Extreme climatic events lead to deaths and injuries. Climate change may also increase the development of skin cancers. More indirectly, it modifies the geographic distribution of some vector-borne diseases and aquatic bacteria (cholera outbreaks). The melting of permafrost could generate viral and bacterial threats. High temperatures and extreme climate events are associated with a decline in agricultural yields, which can lead to malnutrition and the stunting of children. Climate change could exacerbate toxic algae bloom, and it has implications for allergies. It will also influence atmospheric concentrations of pollutants and increase the frequency of forest fires and sand and dust storms, which are associated with respiratory problems. The increase in sea levels may contribute to mass climate-caused migrations, with resulting hygiene problems, infectious diseases, and conflicts. The salinization of aquifers will affect access to drinking water. Ocean acidification will amplify the impact of tsunamis and hurricanes and disrupt fishing-based economies. Measures to fight against and to adapt to climate change can also influence health. These involve urban environments and the economic sectors of agriculture, transport, energy, and industry, which shape major determinants of health (physical activity, diet, air pollution, noise, and chemical contaminants). The fight against climate change thus represents a tremendous opportunity to improve health. It is accordingly important to incorporate public health issues into the research agenda related to climate change, in a disciplinary continuum combining, among others, epidemiology and public health, climate sciences, the various human and social sciences, urbanism, and political science.