By Molly O’Dell
Recently, I initiated a health advisory urging citizens in our area to use caution regarding drinking water because floodwaters and runoff may contain sewage and agricultural or industrial waste that contaminate drinking water and damage septic systems.
During the past two years, since I returned to the Virginia Department of Health in 2011, I have responded to more frequent and severe weather events with resulting health-related implications than I experienced during my previous 19-year tenure as health director from 1987-2006.
Based on accumulated evidence and experience, climate scientists and public health practitioners have reached widespread agreement that the climate is changing. What fuels debate is how much of climate change is a result of human activity, direct and indirect. What seems important for us to address in our communities is how climate change is affecting our health.
O’Dell is the director of the New River Health District, Virginia Department of Health.