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How Climate Change Affects Our Health by City Tech Blogger Andy Leung

In the last 50 years human involvement has released enough amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the point where it has effected global climate. For the last century, the Earth has warmed by approximately 0.85°C or 33.5°F. The changes of global climate resulted in sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting, and precipitation patterns are changing. Extreme weather events are becoming more intense and frequent. Our health has always been influenced by the climate and the weather. With these changes especially in weather extremes, it effects the environment around us. Climate change, along with other natural and man-made health stressors, threatens our health and well-being in many ways. Some of these health impacts are already begin to have an effect on the people in the United States, because of the changes in the frequency, severity, and even the location of some weather and climate phenomena, which includes extreme temperatures both hot and cold, heavy rains and droughts, and other severe weathers, these changes are said to continue. That means the areas already experiencing health-threatening weather and climate phenomena, like severe heat or hurricanes, are going to experience severe impacts, such as even higher temperatures and increased storm strength, rainfall rates, and storm surge. It also means that some areas will experience new climate-related health threats. An example of this would be areas that were previously not affected by waterborne diseases because of cooler water temperatures may face these dangers in the future, as a result of increasing water temperatures allow the organisms like poisonous algae, that cause these health risks to thrive. Even places that currently have these health hazards may see a shift in the timing of the seasons where these hazards are at the greatest risk to human health. The main idea is that climate change can affect our health in two main ways, first is by changing the severity or frequency of health problems that are already affected by climate or weather factors; and  second by creating unanticipated health problems or health threats in places where they have never occurred before.

Climate change is expected to change the quality of air in several ways; these include the production of allergens and increased concentrations of fine particles, and dust. Some of these contaminants can directly cause lung disease or worsen existing conditions in vulnerable people, like as children or the elderly. Some of the impacts that climate change can have on air quality include: an increase of ground level ozone and fine particle concentrations, which can trigger a variety of reactions that includes chest pains, coughing, and reduce lung function. An increase of carbon dioxide concentrations and temperatures, which affects the timing of aeroallergen distribution and strengthening the allergenicity, the potential of something to cause an allergic reaction, of pollen and mold spores and an increase in precipitation in some areas which leads to an increase in mold spores. As global temperatures rise, and life-threatening heat waves increase in frequency due to climate change we can expect to see more heat-related illnesses and death. If a person were to stay outside in the sun long enough with exposure to extreme heat, it can cause heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat stroke, and death, as well as aggravate preexisting long-lasting conditions. These serious health consequences usually affect more susceptible people such as the elderly, children, and those with existing heart and lung diseases. High concentrations of buildings in urban areas cause urban heat island effect, leading to the generation and absorption of heat, making the urban places several degrees warmer than the surrounding areas. Changes to the temperature, precipitation, and extreme events increases the range of Vector borne diseases and can lead to illnesses happening earlier in the year than expected. Vector borne diseases are illnesses that are transmitted by creatures labeled as vectors. Vectors are living creatures that can transmit diseases between humans or from animals to humans. A lot of these vectors are bloodsucking insects, which consumes infected blood during a blood meal from an infected host, human or animal, and later inject it into a new host during their next blood meal. Mosquitoes are the best-known disease vector. Other vectors include the licks of ticks, flies, fleas, and some freshwater snails. The physical range of ticks that carry Lyme disease is limited by temperature. But as the air temperatures rises, ticks are likely going to become active earlier in the season, and their range is likely to continue to expand their range of infecting others. Mosquitoes like to live in certain climate conditions and can spread diseases like the West Nile virus. But with extreme temperature changes, whether a place is too cold, hot, wet, or dry, can influence the location and number of mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus. There are many researchers out there now trying to find solutions to these problems now, for air quality they are trying to develop and validate a real-time remote sensing and other monitoring techniques to test the air quality, aero-allergens, aerosolized pathogens, dust burdens, and other contacts directly linked to asthma and airway diseases. Identifying and mapping populations and communities that are have an increased risk of climate-related respiratory diseases. For the rising temperature they are determining the characteristics of communities, including the regional and seasonal differences, that make some more resilient or vulnerable to adverse health impacts from heat waves and to improve the current climate models, so that they can record how frequent and the strength of the heat waves across many periods to help the weather-climate predictions and use of heat early warning systems in decision making. For the vector borne diseases researchers are considering the development of a new pesticides intended to control the disease vectors that have some the qualities of affecting only the targeted vectors, safe for the environment, and making sure that the vectors do not develop a resistance to it.

What was talked about here is only a very small portion of what climate change is doing to not only our  environment, but also how it is going to affect our health.

References:

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/geh/climatechange/health_impacts/index.cfm

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/climate-change-and-health

https://health2016.globalchange.gov/climate-change-and-human-health

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/a_human_health_perspective_on_climate_change_full_report_508.pdf

https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-human-health_.html

https://www.statnews.com/2019/01/16/climate-change-affecting-health-leaders-must-take-action/

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