Climate change is a global threat to health, says a new U.S. Government report. About 100 climate-change science and public health experts from eight Federal agencies–including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)–got together and combed through a ton of peer-reviewed research. The result is a more robust scientific understanding of how climate change increases risk to human health. The conclusion of this recently released report is as the climate continues to change, it will intensify old threats and precipitate new ones, to include adverse human health effects.
GPO makes available the collaborative and foundational report, Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, as a PDF eBook.
This scientific assessment examines the profound impact of climate change on the health of American people. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, which spearheaded the assessment, says “Every person in the U.S. is vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change at some point in their lives, no matter where they live.”
At global, regional, and local levels, extreme rainfall, drought, heat, and flooding will challenge quality food, water, and air supplies. In turn, the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries, premature deaths, vector-borne illnesses, infectious diseases, and threats to mental health will grow. Page five of the report charts examples of how climate change can affect human health and disease.
Here are a few key discoveries from Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment:
- Temperature-Related Death and Illness: rising concentrations of greenhouse gases —> more extreme temperature swings —> increase in deaths and illness from heat and cold;
- Air Quality Impacts: higher levels of air pollutants and airborne allergens —> poor indoor and outdoor air quality —> negative affect on allergies and respiratory health;
- Impacts of Extreme Events on Human Health: exposure to extreme events —> disruption of essential infrastructure —> health risks;
- Vector-Borne Diseases: climate change is expected to alter vector-borne disease transmission and infection patterns and spur the emergence of new vector-borne pathogens;
- Climate Impacts on Water-Related Illness: affected fresh and marine water resources —> more water-related contaminants —> more water-related illnesses
- Food Safety, Nutrition, and Distribution: higher global temps and concentrations of CO2 —> increase foodborne illness, lower nutritional values, and make food less safe;
- Mental Health and Well-Being: climate change disasters can have serious mental health consequences such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
These experts hope research like this will lead efforts to counter climactic disturbances and proactively manage the health risks of climate change.
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About the author: Blogger contributor Chelsea Milko is a Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.