With environmental variability and change come new health challenges, from temperature-related sickness to vector- and water-borne diseases and impacts from air pollution. In response, scholars at the UA are addressing these threats with an increasingly diverse array of interdisciplinary projects. Rapidly expanding research and outreach programs, focusing particularly on the arid Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico border region, are exploring important health issues such as the fate and toxicity of man-made chemicals; the presence of microbial pathogens that are introduced into the environment by humans and are threatening food safety; diseases carried by insects and other vectors; and the far-ranging collection of health-related effects associated with climate variability and change.
Climate change has profound effects on the habitat for disease vectors, such as insects, and soil and airborne microbes and irritants. A critical aspect of research at the University of Arizona is assessing changes in both climate and the lengths of insect breeding seasons, which are strongly affected by temperature and precipitation, to better understand adaptation to climate change in the public health sector. UA research is also examining the links between climate change and variability and infectious disease transmission through epidemiological and biostatistical studies and is assessing the capacity of public institutions to adapt to threats of emerging diseases.
Some strategies for adaptation developed by UA researchers include mechanisms for effective public health education campaigns and the use of medical technology and improved communication to rural regions. Through community-based partnerships in pharmacology and toxicology, UA research explores connections on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border between a changing climate and methods used to control the spread of contaminants, while building the capacity to address complex issues of health, education, communication, governance, and policy.