PORTLAND – Portland needs to get ready for more heat waves, declining air quality and more mosquitoes, according to a new report by Multnomah County released Wednesday.
The report looks into how climate change will likely cause temperatures to rise and change precipitation throughout the county.
Dr. Justin Denny, Heath Officer with the county, said there is reason to be concerned.
Scientists note that temperatures have gone up 1.5 degrees in the region over the past century and September was one of the wettest since 1872. Climate researchers now expect drier, hotter, summers and warmer, wetter winters in Multnomah County in the coming years.
Denny points out that an increase in heat waves can have dramatic effects on a region with an historically mild climate. People with respiratory problems including asthma and allergies may also have more problems as air pollution worsens, he said.
The region will likely see a longer mosquito season will new, disease-bearing species expected to move in, Denny added.
In response to its findings, Multnomah County said it will work with families to improve air quality, better track heat-related health problems, and continue to monitor and reduce mosquito habitats and mosquito-related diseases.
County officials said the elderly, the homeless and low income residents who are most vulnerable will likely be most affected by the changing climate.
“These are the same communities that experience disparities in health outcomes already,’’ said the report’s lead author, Kari Lyons-Eubanks. “They’re the ones who don’t have the means to adapt or get out of town.’’
Wednesday’s report was one of the steps agreed upon in the 2009 Multnomah County/City of Portland Climate Action Plan.