Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106

04/12/2018 03:00 PM House HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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03:06:25 PM Start
03:06:51 PM Presentation: Assessment of the Potential Health Impacts of Climate Change in Alaska
03:44:32 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: Report on the Potential Health TELECONFERENCED
Impacts of Climate Change in AK by the Dept. of
Health & Social Services
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      HOUSE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                     
                         April 12, 2018                                                                                         
                           3:06 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Ivy Spohnholz, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Representative Jennifer Johnston                                                                                                
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, Vice Chair                                                                                     
Representative Sam Kito                                                                                                         
Representative David Eastman                                                                                                    
Representative Matt Claman (alternate)                                                                                          
Representative Dan Saddler (alternate)                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION: ASSESSMENT OF THE POTENTIAL HEALTH IMPACTS OF                                                                     
CLIMATE CHANGE IN ALASKA                                                                                                        
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SARAH YODER                                                                                                                     
Acting Environmental Public Health Program Manager                                                                              
Division of Public Health                                                                                                       
Department of Health and Social Services                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented a PowerPoint titled "Assessment                                                                
of the Potential Health Impacts of Climate Change in Alaska."                                                                   
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:06:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR IVY SPOHNHOLZ  called the House Health  and Social Services                                                             
Standing   Committee    meeting   to    order   at    3:06   p.m.                                                               
Representatives Spohnholz,  Tarr, Sullivan-Leonard,  and Johnston                                                               
were present at the call to order.                                                                                              
^Presentation:  Assessment of  the  Potential  Health Impacts  of                                                             
Climate Change in Alaska                                                                                                      
  Presentation: Assessment of the Potential Health Impacts of                                                               
                    Climate Change in Alaska                                                                                
3:06:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ announced  that the only order  of business would                                                               
be  a presentation  on the  potential health  impacts of  climate                                                               
change in Alaska.                                                                                                               
3:08:43 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 3:08 p.m. to 3:10 p.m.                                                                       
3:10:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ brought the committee back to order.                                                                            
3:10:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SARAH YODER, Acting Environmental  Public Health Program Manager,                                                               
Division  of  Public  Health, Department  of  Health  and  Social                                                               
Services,  introduced  a  PowerPoint presentation,  published  in                                                               
January 2018, titled "Assessment  of the Potential Health Impacts                                                               
of Climate  Change in Alaska."   She shared slide  2, "Overview,"                                                               
and  said  that  she  would   present  about  the  Health  Impact                                                               
Assessment  (HIA)  because the  report  from  Division of  Public                                                               
Health follows this framework.   She would also present a summary                                                               
of Observed  and Predicted  Changes and how  these could  lead to                                                               
potential health  impacts in  Alaska.  She  added that  she would                                                               
also share some examples of  monitoring and adaptation strategies                                                               
related  to human  health.   She directed  attention to  slide 3,                                                               
"What is  an HIA?"  and explained that  this report  followed the                                                               
framework of an HIA, a  preventative health report which informed                                                               
decision makers and other stakeholders,  such as communities, for                                                               
the  potential health  effects of  proposed projects.   She  said                                                               
that the ultimate  goal of an HIA was to  minimize adverse health                                                               
effects  and  maximize health  benefits.    She shared  slide  4,                                                               
"Health  Impact Assessment  (HIA),"  and stated  that these  were                                                               
also  useful  for proposals  that  fall  outside the  traditional                                                               
public   health   arenas,  including   transportation,   resource                                                               
development, and climate change.  She  moved on to slide 5, "What                                                               
Prompted This HIA?"  and explained that the  3rd National Climate                                                               
Assessment,  in 2014,  had  detailed  climate change  predictions                                                               
with  chapters  focused  on potential  environmental  impacts  in                                                               
Alaska  as  well  as  potential  impacts  for  human  health  and                                                               
indigenous  populations.     She  declared  that   this  national                                                               
assessment had inspired  them to develop an  in-depth report that                                                               
would  tie together  these  themes  to serve  as  a resource  for                                                               
Alaska.   She  presented  slide  6, "Purpose  of  This HIA,"  and                                                               
explained that this HIA would  add health specific information to                                                               
the  climate  change conversation.    It  would provide  a  broad                                                               
overview of  the range  of potential  adverse impacts  of climate                                                               
change on human health in Alaska,  as well as present examples of                                                               
strategies for communities and decision makers to consider.                                                                     
3:13:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. YODER shared  slide 7, "Areas Not Addressed by  the HIA," and                                                               
noted that some  areas were not addressed by  this HIA, including                                                               
prevention of any  new models of climate  change, new predictions                                                               
of  climate   change  in  Alaska,   or  opinions   about  current                                                               
predictions.    This  report  does   not  address  the  potential                                                               
beneficial health impacts of climate change.                                                                                    
3:14:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  YODER addressed  slide 8,  "Indicators," and  reported that,                                                               
prior  to  a review  of  any  potential  health impacts,  it  was                                                               
necessary to  form a  clear picture of  what changes  had already                                                               
occurred and  what were  predicted to  occur in  the environment.                                                               
She listed  the seven environmental  indicators used  to organize                                                               
the  findings:   temperature,  precipitation,  weather, sea  ice,                                                               
glaciers, permafrost,  and sea  level.  She  stated that  each of                                                               
these indicators would be discussed  in the report and that these                                                               
were a compilation  of available studies and  not new predictions                                                               
generated by  the Division  of Public  Health.   She moved  on to                                                               
slides 9  - 10,  "Predicted Environmental Changes,"  sharing that                                                               
Alaska  could  experience  an increase  in  annual  temperatures,                                                               
increased  precipitation  and   storm  intensity,  increased  sea                                                               
level,  decreased  sea  ice,  glacial  recession,  and  decreased                                                               
permafrost shifting  hundreds of  miles northward  by the  end of                                                               
the century.   She pointed out that the timing  for these changes                                                               
differed, from  already occurring to  decades in the  future, and                                                               
that the scale of predicted changes would differ by region.                                                                     
3:16:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ asked about the reference to drier summers.                                                                     
MS.  YODER  explained  that,  although  the  prediction  was  for                                                               
increased precipitation,  it would  be constrained to  winter and                                                               
spring, and less so  for the summer.  She added  that there was a                                                               
prediction for  an increase to  the evaporation of  surface water                                                               
due to increased temperatures.                                                                                                  
3:16:51 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  YODER returned  to slide  10  and focused  on the  potential                                                               
human  health  impact.    She said  that  this  demonstrated  the                                                               
complex relationship  between the climate drivers,  including the                                                               
previously mentioned indicators, with  the environment and health                                                               
outcome.   She stated that  the relationship between  climate and                                                               
specific health  outcomes was not  always direct.   She presented                                                               
slide 11, "Health  Effect Categories," and stated  that there was                                                               
a reliance  on the HIA  methodology to provide  an organizational                                                               
framework to systematically consider  the wide range of potential                                                               
health impacts,  referred to  as Health  Effect Categories.   She                                                               
said that  the categories considered  included mental  health and                                                               
wellbeing,  accidents  and   injuries,  exposure  to  potentially                                                               
hazardous materials, and infectious diseases.   She said that she                                                               
would  highlight several  key potential  impacts  in each  Health                                                               
Effect Category.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    SULLIVAN-LEONARD   asked    about   information                                                               
pertaining to  the regional areas in  the state that may  be more                                                               
affected than others,  and she offered an example  of the changes                                                               
to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in the past 20 years.                                                                           
MS. YODER explained  that there was some  discussion for regions,                                                               
although  the categorization  focused on  coastal, northern,  and                                                               
interior  areas even  as it  was recognized  for the  differences                                                               
within each.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SULLIVAN-LEONARD   asked  for   any   additional                                                               
MS. YODER  reiterated that the  focus was on  Alaska predictions,                                                               
and  included  changes  in the  coastal,  northern  and  interior                                                               
3:21:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  YODER directed  attention to  slide 12,  "Mental Health  and                                                               
Wellbeing," and reported that climate  change could impact health                                                               
by  causing  an increase  to  psychosocial  distress due  to  the                                                               
changing  environment.   She offered  examples  for the  imminent                                                               
need for  relocation of a  community, thawing  permafrost causing                                                               
infrastructure damage,  or an increase in  extreme weather events                                                               
and wildfire  near a residence.   She defined solastalgia  as the                                                               
sense of  loss caused by environmental  change.  She moved  on to                                                               
slide 13, "Accidents and Injuries,"  and said that climate change                                                               
could  lead to  an  increase due  to factors  or  events such  as                                                               
infrastructure  damage,  wildfires,   flooding,  and  unsafe  ice                                                               
conditions.   Speaking about slide  14, "Exposure  to Potentially                                                               
Hazardous Materials,"  she noted that climate  change could bring                                                               
increased  cardiovascular  and  respiratory  disease  due  to  an                                                               
increase in  air pollution  or wildfire smoke.   She  spoke about                                                               
slide 15,  "Food, Nutrition, and  Subsistence," and  offered that                                                               
there could  be a  decrease in  subsistence food  consumption and                                                               
food  security, as  well as  a  change in  food distribution  and                                                               
subsistence  patterns.     She  reported  that   there  had  been                                                               
increased  difficulty for  some Alaskans  in accessing  preferred                                                               
hunting  grounds due  to changing  permafrost  and uncertain  ice                                                               
conditions.    She  presented  slide  16,  "Non-communicable  and                                                               
Chronic Diseases,"  and noted that  climate change could  lead to                                                               
increased allergies  and respiratory illness with  an increase in                                                               
pollen counts  and wildfire smoke.   She shared slide  17, "Water                                                               
and  Sanitation,"  and stated  that  climate  change could  cause                                                               
increased water and sanitation infrastructure damage.                                                                           
3:27:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  YODER shared  slide 18,  "Rating/Prioritizing Impacts,"  and                                                               
explained that HIAs had ratings  and prioritization of the health                                                               
impacts.    As each  community  would  likely experience  climate                                                               
change  differently, this  proposed  a  ranking methodology  that                                                               
could be adapted by communities  and stakeholders.  She said that                                                               
this  report  provided a  system  that  considered the  potential                                                               
timing and magnitude of the  impact by looking at dimensions such                                                               
as time to  impact, geographic extent, number  of people directly                                                               
impacted,  and  resources  needed  to adapt  or  respond  to  the                                                               
impact.    She  moved  on  to  slide  19,  "Table  4.  Notational                                                               
Example," which  demonstrated that  the system from  the previous                                                               
slide  was  used to  consider  each  identified potential  health                                                               
impact.   The table  provided a visual  guide to  which potential                                                               
health impact may  be more pertinent to the  community, and which                                                               
may need  more attention  and higher  prioritization.   She noted                                                               
that this  rating system  could be  useful when  considering what                                                               
was to be done to avoid  or lessen potential health impacts.  She                                                               
moved on  to slide 20,  "Monitoring Recommendations,"  and stated                                                               
that  knowing which  impacts may  need prioritization  could help                                                               
determine  appropriate  monitoring recommendations  and  identify                                                               
data  to improve  situational awareness  of  changes in  specific                                                               
indicators.   She reported that the  Local Environmental Observer                                                               
(LEO)  Network  was  an  online   platform  developed  for  local                                                               
observers to  connect with topical experts  about unusual animal,                                                               
environmental,  and  weather events.    She  addressed slide  21,                                                               
"Monitoring  Recommendations Table,"  which showed  a portion  of                                                               
the  monitoring   recommendation  table   and  it   outlined  the                                                               
potential  health  impact,  identified relevant  indicators,  and                                                               
provided examples of where the data may exist.                                                                                  
3:31:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  YODER  shared  slide   22,  "Adaptation  Strategies,"  which                                                               
considered  climate change  adaptation as  adjusting to  climatic                                                               
changes in  an effort to  decrease negative impacts  and increase                                                               
potential opportunities.  She moved  on to slide 23, "Overarching                                                               
Adaptation  Strategies," which  detailed some  of the  adaptation                                                               
strategies   that  communities   and  other   stakeholders  could                                                               
consider in terms of health.   These were general strategies such                                                               
as  creating local  climate change  advisory groups  and offering                                                               
community  members  ample  opportunity to  relay  their  concerns                                                               
about climate  change.  She  spoke about slide  24, "HEC-Specific                                                               
Adaptation Strategies,"  which included specific  strategies such                                                               
as a  review of  architecture and  engineering designs  to ensure                                                               
that  plumbing  infrastructure  could withstand  changes  to  the                                                               
underlying permafrost  and to develop  a community  response plan                                                               
for wildfires.  She explained  slide 25, "HEC-Specific Adaptation                                                               
Strategy  Table," which  presented  a portion  of the  adaptation                                                               
strategies specific to each health effect category.                                                                             
3:33:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. YODER described  slides 26, 27, &  28, "Adaptation Strategies                                                               
Already  Occurring," which  included  the  Alaska Climate  Change                                                               
Strategy and Climate Action for  Leadership Team, a framework for                                                               
Alaskans to  build a strategic  response to climate change.   She                                                               
shared  another  example at  the  regional  level, Adapt  Alaska,                                                               
which created a discussion space  for Alaska communities, tribes,                                                               
agencies,  and nonprofits  to share  information  and learn  from                                                               
each  other and  how they  can adapt.   She  offered a  community                                                               
level  example, the  Native Village  of Georgetown  on a  climate                                                               
vulnerability  assessment  in   2017,  which  documented  climate                                                               
related changes and trends in the area.                                                                                         
3:35:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. YODER closed  with slide 29, "Summary,"  and the relationship                                                               
between  climate  and  health in  Alaska,  with  strategies  that                                                               
communities  and   other  stakeholders   could  consider.     She                                                               
emphasized that,  although there  was a  wide range  of potential                                                               
adverse health  impacts in  Alaska due  to climate  change, there                                                               
were strategies  that could be  implemented to avoid  or minimize                                                               
these potential health impacts.                                                                                                 
3:36:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SULLIVAN-LEONARD  asked about  the  determination                                                               
for geographic  and scientifically inclined changes  versus human                                                               
changes in Alaska.                                                                                                              
MS. YODER asked  if this was due to humans  or natural change for                                                               
human populations.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE SULLIVAN-LEONARD asked  for the scientific natural                                                               
occurrence in the changes to our environment.                                                                                   
MS. YODER explained that the  report focused primarily on climate                                                               
predictions  for  Alaska  using  national  studies,  as  well  as                                                               
studies in Alaska.  It did not focus on the cause of change.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SULLIVAN-LEONARD  reflected  on  earlier  coastal                                                               
changes when  groups were nomadic,  and moved as necessary.   She                                                               
opined that it was now more difficult to move.                                                                                  
3:39:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR asked if there  was a need for future funding                                                               
now that the risks had been determined.                                                                                         
MS.  YODER said  that the  future efforts  to address  health and                                                               
adaptation   would  be   up  to   the  respective   agencies  and                                                               
communities  to develop  their priorities.   She  mused that  the                                                               
Climate Action  for Alaska Leadership  team may be  better suited                                                               
to determine the next step and the necessary funding.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE TARR asked about her day to day work.                                                                            
MS.   YODER   explained  that   this   was   not  her   full-time                                                               
responsibility,  although  she  did  pay  attention  to  the  new                                                               
studies and literature, and they were compiling any new data.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR asked if anyone  else at Department of Health                                                               
and  Social  Services  was  looking  at  climate  related  health                                                               
MS. YODER  said that she was  not aware of anyone  else, although                                                               
she was  attending other  meetings for Arctic  and climate.   She                                                               
mentioned  that Dr.  Joe Mclaughlin,  Chief of  Epidemiology, was                                                               
also following the studies.                                                                                                     
3:42:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ  asked if there was  going to be a  more specific                                                               
MS.  YODER   acknowledged  that  the  report   was  a  high-level                                                               
discussion of potential human health  impacts, as it was intended                                                               
to  be  guidance  for  communities and  other  stake  holders  to                                                               
develop their response to climate change.                                                                                       
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ  asked if anyone was  monitoring or participating                                                               
in the Governor's Climate Action for Alaska Leadership team.                                                                    
MS. YODER  said that she  had attended  meetings as she  was able                                                               
and was staying as involved as possible.                                                                                        
3:44:32 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Health  and  Social  Services   Standing  Committee  meeting  was                                                               
adjourned at 3:44 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HHSS Climate and Health Presentation 04102018 (handouts).pdf HHSS 4/12/2018 3:00:00 PM
Climate Change & Health
HHSS Climate and Health Presentation 04102018 (slides).pdf HHSS 4/12/2018 3:00:00 PM
Climate Change & Health