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Global warming increases health risks for Inuit

Research shows links between warming climate and disease

Earth is getting warmer, and indigenous people are among the most vulnerable to the impacts.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A Canadian researcher says indigenous people around the world are among the most vulnerable to climate change. They may be increasingly susceptible to pathogen loads found in drinking water after heavy rainfall or rapid snow melt, according to the preliminary findings of Sherilee Harper, a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in Aboriginal People’s Health at the University of Guelph, who says that there has been a significant increase in the incidence of diarrhea and vomiting following these weather events.

Harper’s research is comparing how extreme weather events affect waterborne diseases in the Arctic and in southwestern Uganda, and she is finding parallels between health issues faced by indigenous groups in Uganda and those in Inuit Nunangat.

“There are a lot of similarities,” she said. “One of the most significant is caused by changes to the climate; in both places, increased temperatures and rainfall are leading to increased bacterial loads in water. This can be because of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, but, in each case, it leads to an increased risk of exposure to waterborne disease from both tap water and brook water.” Continue reading

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