How Climate Change May Pose Serious Health Risks Worldwide
the MPR take:
Climate change may contribute to a significant increase in heat-related disorders including heat stress, respiratory disorders, infectious diseases, and mental health disorders by the year 2050 in the United States, argues a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. After reviewing studies published from January 2009 to April 2014 on climate change and health and disease risk and the co-benefits of reducing fossil fuel emissions, the authors concluded the following:
- Heat-related disorders, including heat stress and economic consequences of reduced work capacity, are the most direct effect of climate change. Temperature as an underlying factor in events such as cardiac arrest is rarely cited. Groups such as the elderly, those living in poverty or social isolation, and those with mental illness have a heightened risk of heat-related disorders.
- Respiratory disorders, including those exacerbated by fine particulate pollutants, such as asthma and allergic diseases, can be exacerbated by climate change from enhanced pollen production.
- Infectious diseases, including vectorborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, and water-borne diseases, such as childhood gastrointestinal diseases, are expected to worsen.
- Food production, including reduced crop yields and an increase in plant diseases, may lead to undernutrition and create food insecurity.
- Mental health disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder and depression that are associated with natural disasters exacerbated by climate change may become a significant health burden.
The study authors suggest that that wind, solar, wave, and geothermal energy sources, improved use of household energy, reduced emissions from agriculture, livestock production and forestry, and increased urban walking and cycling can lead to health and climate benefits in the short and long-term.
Importance: Health is inextricably linked to climate change. Data Sources, Study Selection, and Data Synthesis: We searched PubMed from 2009 to 2014 for articles related to climate change and health, focused on governmental reports, predictive models, and empirical epidemiological studies. The ...
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