Extreme temperatures pose a serious, long-term health threat for people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, respiratory diseases, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and multiple sclerosis. We all know that people die of heat stroke in the summer or of heart attacks after shoveling snow. We know a lot less about the long-term effects on large populations of living in extreme heat and cold. Reporters at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland are working with National Public Radio and students at Wide Angle Youth Media in Baltimore on a project to look at how heat and cold in Baltimore homes affect residents' health – particularly as climate change becomes more and more significant. Learn more and get involved.

Extreme heat and cold: CNS is reporting on climate and health

By Dan Novak

Capital News Service
February 11, 2019

For many people, the recent polar vortex was simply an inconvenience. But others were at risk. In Baltimore’s rowhouses and poorly maintained old homes, extreme cold or heat over time can sicken or kill the very young, the fragile elderly and people of any age with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart or lung problems. And as climate change alters temperature patterns, public health officials predict a growing problem.

Hundreds of people die annually in the U.S. because of extreme temperatures, generating extensive news coverage during heat waves and extended cold snaps. Far less attention is paid to the long-term health consequences of living in a home where temperatures -- in cold rooms or stifling rowhouses -- day after day stress the body. Many people can’t afford to upgrade heating or install air conditioning, and landlords may balk at repairs and improvements.

Over the next several months, Capital News Service will analyze the impact of climate change on the health of vulnerable people in Baltimore. We will be in Baltimoreans’ homes, schools and senior centers, at neighborhood association meetings and in City Hall. We’re collecting a lot of data and examining how the city is responding to the challenge.

Working with residents in neighborhoods across the city, we plan to deploy temperature monitoring units to collect minute-by-minute temperature and humidity data to better understand the impact.

CNS will explore the many ways heat and cold affect health. It also will examine local, state and federal policies; potential solutions, and the latest research on climate change as it is occurring in Baltimore and across the country. Along the way, we’ll tell stories with innovative data displays, photos and video.

This project will bring together a team of journalists from the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, Baltimore non-profit Wide Angle Youth Media and partners in Baltimore neighborhoods. Capital News Service will publish the stories, along with other media partnering with CNS.

Keep an eye on this space. We will update you on news and stories we can't wait to share.

If you live in Baltimore and want to get involved, we want to learn about your experience with cold in the winter and heat in the summer. You can connect with us by filling out the form here.