An exploration of climate-relevant databases in British Columbia: laying the groundwork for future research on health and development outcomes (2021)
This thesis builds on the important role that the Early Development Instrument (EDI) has played in monitoring and studying the developmental outcomes of kindergarten-aged children in British Columbia (BC), along with the social determinants of those outcomes. In spite of evidence of climate change’s disproportionate global burden on children, further research is yet needed to fully understand what impact climate change may have on these developmental outcomes in BC. Furthermore, the EDI has yet to be used as an outcome of interest in research on the effects of climate change in BC. In response, this project attempted to lay the foundation for this future line of research inquiry, as well as climate-exposure research with other health and development outcomes. First, a range of climate-relevant factors were selected for study. These included heat/temperature, wildfires and their smoke/particulate matter, evacuations, ground-level ozone, and floods. Next, a scoping review was conducted to assemble a comprehensive list of climate-relevant databases that have been used in BC in the same range of years as the EDI. A set of criteria was established to evaluate the databases, thereby determining which would be most appropriate for studying associations with early developmental outcomes as assessed by the EDI. The most promising database found for studying ECD in conjunction with heat/temperature is Environment and Climate Change Canada’s temperature database. For studies with wildfires, the Canadian National Fire Database is the most promising. For studying smoke or particulate matter, there is not one single database that is the most promising. However, the Canadian Urban Environmental Research Consortium, Firework, and the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Optimized Statistical Smoke Exposure Model could all be used to answer different questions. For studying evacuations, Natural Resources Canada’s Wildland Fire Evacuation Database is the most promising. For studying ozone, the most promising databases are the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change air quality network (which collaborates with Metro Vancouver Air Quality), and CANUE. The most promising database found for flooding was the National Water Data Archive. The project concluded with a discussion of what hypotheses are testable based on these promising climate-relevant databases.