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Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 315; doi:10.3390/su8040315

Assessing Potential Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Public Health and Vulnerable Populations in Southeast Florida and Providing a Framework to Improve Outcomes

1
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA
2
Center for Environmental Studies, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA
3
School of Urban and Regional Planning, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA
4
Florida Institute for Health Innovation, West Palm Beach, FL 33407, USA
5
South Florida Regional Planning Council, Hollywood, FL 33021, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: William D. Shuster, Audrey L. Mayer and Ahjond S. Garmestani
Received: 12 January 2016 / Revised: 24 March 2016 / Accepted: 25 March 2016 / Published: 31 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [6883 KB, uploaded 1 April 2016]   |  

Abstract

In recent years, ongoing efforts by a multitude of universities, local governments, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been focused on sea-level rise (SLR) adaptation in Florida. However, within these efforts, there has been very little attention given to the potential impacts of sea-level rise on human health. The intent of this project is to identify populations in Southeast Florida that are most vulnerable to sea-level rise from a topographic perspective, determine how vulnerable these population are from a socio-economic perspective, identify potential health impacts, develop adaptation strategies designed to assist these communities, and produce an outreach effort that can be shared with other coastal communities. The location of socially-vulnerable and health-vulnerable populations are correlated, but at present they are not generally in the geographically-vulnerable areas. Projections indicate that they will become at risk in the future but the lack of data on emerging diseases makes public health assessments difficult. We propose a redefinition of “who is vulnerable?” to include health indicators and hard infrastructure solutions for flood and property protection. These tools can be used to help protect water resources from the impacts of climate change, which would, in turn, protect public health via drinking water supplies, and efforts to address social issues. View Full-Text
Keywords: sea level rise; vulnerable populations; groundwater; vector- and waterborne diseases sea level rise; vulnerable populations; groundwater; vector- and waterborne diseases
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bloetscher, F.; Polsky, C.; Bolter, K.; Mitsova, D.; Garces, K.P.; King, R.; Carballo, I.C.; Hamilton, K. Assessing Potential Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Public Health and Vulnerable Populations in Southeast Florida and Providing a Framework to Improve Outcomes. Sustainability 2016, 8, 315.

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