Man-made global climate change is sickening America and will only get worse, according to a report released April 4 by the federal government. “As the climate continues to change, the risks to human health continue to grow,” the report states.
Titled “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment,” the 332-page report cited elevated temperatures, air and water pollution, flooding and the increase in insect-borne diseases as results of man-made global climate change.
Each of these affects the health of humans. For example, rising temperatures cause insects including ticks to expand their range northward and transmit disease to more people, according to the report. Mental health and well-being also are being affected, the report stated.
The report was based on more than 1,800 published scientific studies and new federal research, White House science adviser John Holdren said in an Associated Press article published widely by news-gathering organizations this week. Holdren also said the report was reviewed by the National Academies of Sciences.
Climate change affects more people in more ways than anything doctors have seen in the past, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, said in the AP article. The report allows doctors to better quantify “the sheer number of pathways through which climate affects health,” he said in the article.
Asthma is the No. 1 cause of children going to the hospital and “now we’re seeing it worsening because of the heat, the allergens,” and air pollution, Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University’s public health school, said in the article.
Murthy agreed, saying, “Not being able to breathe is one of the most frightening experiences. We’re talking about scary moments for parents and children.”
CDC computer simulations of 209 cities show that extra summer heat deaths will outweigh fewer winter cold deaths from climate change, one of the report’s authors Shubhayu Saha, said in the AP article.
“This assessment not only provides the latest science on questions like how climate change affects our health and who is most vulnerable — it starts to answer the key questions of how much of an impact climate change will have on different health problems and how many people will be affected,” John Balbus, senior adviser for public health at the National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences, said in a White House news release. Balbus is a lead author of the report, which includes information on the following topics:
* Temperature-related death and illness
* Air quality impacts
* Extreme events
* Vector-borne diseases
* Water-related illness
* Food safety, nutrition and distribution
* Mental health and well-being
* Populations of concern
To learn more about climate change and the nursing connection, go to “The climate connection: Nurses examine effects of climate change on public health”. For more information on continuing education modules related to the care of asthma patients, take the continuing education module “Comprehensive Disease Management for Patients With Asthma“.
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