Communities in the Northeast face a number of health risks from the impacts of climate change. These include heat related illness from rising temperatures, respiratory health impacts from worsening air quality, disease and displacement resulting from rising seas and coastal storms, and disruption of critical services like access to medical care during extreme events impact physical and mental health–impacts which are often disproportionately felt by marginalized and low-income residents. CCRUN’s health sector has worked with stakeholders to produce actionable research for use in public health messaging, preparedness, and warning systems. The team uses downscaled models to project health impacts while taking future climate and population changes into account.

Current Research:

Chelsea and East Boston Heat Study (C-HEAT)

This project addresses the need to understand the challenges and opportunities facing communities like Chelsea and East Boston around extreme heat events and seeks to empower residents to protect themselves from heat events, inform city resiliency planning, and identify targeted opportunities for intervention. 

The C-HEAT research goals are to 1) characterize the high-risk locations and populations for heat-related illness, along with mitigating community assets, via participatory mapping and monitoring of urban heat islands, cool areas, housing, and sociodemographic information; 2) analyze personal and home temperature exposure patterns during summer, and physical, social, economic and environmental barriers and opportunities to maintain temperature control among vulnerable residents; 3) impact city heat resiliency planning by engaging with city officials and other stakeholders, sharing data and findings, raising awareness of the increasing importance of heat within the communities surrounding Chelsea Creek, and translating key findings from our studies into intervention strategies.

Additional Projects: 

  • Advancing Community Resilience to Cumulative Climate Impacts in the Mystic River Watershed (ACRES)
  • Clean Air, Health & School Sustainability (CHESS)

Recent Publications: 

Smith, I. A., Fabian, M. P., & Hutyra, L. R. (2023). Urban green space and albedo impacts on surface temperature across seven United States cities. The Science of the Total Environment, 857(Pt 3), 159663.

Milando, C. W., Black-Ingersoll, F., Heidari, L., López-Hernández, I., de Lange, J., Negassa, A., McIntyre, A. M., Martinez, M. P. B., Bongiovanni, R., Levy, J. I., Kinney, P. L., Scammell, M. K., & Fabian, M. P. (2022). Mixed methods assessment of personal heat exposure, sleep, physical activity, and heat adaptation strategies among urban residents in the Boston area, MA. BMC Public Health, 22(1), 2314.

Key Stakeholders:

  • Boston Public Schools
  • City of Boston, MA
  • City of Chelsea, MA 
  • GreenRoots
  • Mystic River Watershed Association 


Dr. Patricia Fabian, [email protected]