Measuring National Environmental Health Association Member Attitudes, Awareness, and Behaviors on Climate Change: Results From Three Consecutive Annual Surveys.

Author:McAdams, Jennie W.

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) partners with ecoAmerica's Climate for Health program to build visible national leadership on climate solutions and engage all leadership, members, and stakeholders within the NEHA community. As part of its partnership, ecoAmerica's American Climate Metrics Survey was administered to NEHA members in 2016, 2017, and 2018. This column provides a summary and trend analysis of select survey results, including NEHA member awareness of climate and health issues and relevance for NEHAs climate actions and policies. The full data set can be found at climate-change.

Several recent reports document climate impacts on health, including the Fourth National Climate Assessment; The 2018 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: Shaping the Health of Nations for Centuries to Come; and Climate Change, Health, and Equity: A Guide for Local Health Departments. These reports all conclude that the changing climate has severe effects on human health and disproportionately affects already vulnerable populations: children, older adults, those experiencing low socioeconomic status, and those with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions (Rudolph, Harrison, Buckley, & North, 2018; U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2018; Watts et al., 2018).

Increases in extreme weather, such as hurricanes, contribute to long-term health impacts and significant economic costs. The health impacts are broad:

* increases in heat-related illness or death;

* respiratory and cardiovascular illness and death from poor air quality (e.g., ozone, pollen, mold, and particulate matter such as dust and wildfire smoke) (U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2018);

* injuries and drowning from floods;

* mental health effects from property loss and trauma; and

* foodborne and waterborne diseases; and

* vectorborne diseases from increasing vector habitats and mating seasons for ticks and mosquitoes (e.g., Zika virus, West Nile virus, Lyme disease).

All these health impacts are within the purview of the mission of environmental health professionals (EHPs) to protect the public's health, prevent further harm, and support health, equity, and well-being.

Survey Methods

EcoAmerica works with Lake Research Partners to design and implement an annual national survey--the American Climate Metrics Survey--to measure American behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs on climate change. The 2018 survey was conducted online from September 14-18, 2018, yielded a total of 800 responses, and had a margin of error of [+ or -]3.5%, weighted to statistically represent the U.S. EcoAmerica also works with partners to administer the survey to their members.

Now in its third consecutive year, NEHA's survey was conducted online from September 13-28, 2018, and was distributed by e-mail to NEHA members with 124 respondents. The sample might not be representative of NEHA membership. Survey administrators did not have the ability to measure the margin of error for the NEHA survey. Similar methodology was used in prior years to administer the...

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