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Your Health and Climate Change

Climate change is important for us from an environmental perspective, but it also has far-reaching consequences for your health. Rising temperatures will result in more extreme weather events and other challenges that will require us to rethink the steps we need to take to stay healthy and adjust to changing weather conditions and their consequences.

A boy concerned about health and climate change

Below are some of the ways that your health and climate change are intertwined and actions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones:

Air Quality and Respiratory Issues

Climate change contributes to air pollution, which poses a significant threat to respiratory health. Warmer temperatures and stagnant air increase the concentration of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter due to factors like vehicle exhaust or wildfire smoke, exacerbating conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To safeguard against poor air quality, avoid outdoor activities during smoggy days, use air purifiers indoors, and monitor air quality index forecasts.

Excessive Heat and Heat-Related Illnesses

With rising global temperatures, heatwaves are becoming more intense and frequent. Excessive heat can lead to heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion, especially among vulnerable populations like the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Minimize your risk during heatwaves by staying indoors during peak heat hours (10am-4pm), staying hydrated, and using fans or air conditioning if available.

Vector-Borne Diseases

Vector-borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses, and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors, such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Warmer temperatures and changing precipitation patterns due to climate change create more favorable conditions for these vectors to thrive and expand to areas where they didn’t exist previously, increasing the risk of diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and Lyme disease. Protect yourself by using insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and eliminating standing water around your home.

Waterborne Illnesses

Rising temperatures can impact water quality, leading to an increase in waterborne diseases. Algal blooms and higher water temperatures promote the growth of harmful bacteria and toxins in water sources, potentially causing illnesses like cholera and gastrointestinal infections. Ensure that you have access to safe drinking water and be cautious while swimming in natural bodies of water.

Infectious Disease Spillover

As climate change alters ecosystems and forces wildlife to adapt, infectious diseases may spill over from animals to humans, as we witnessed with COVID-19. The disruptions in ecosystems can create opportunities for pathogens to jump species, leading to new infectious disease outbreaks. Encourage habitat conservation and responsible wildlife management to reduce the risk of this type of disease transmission.

Mental Health Impacts

Climate change-induced natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, can result in trauma, loss, and displacement, leading to adverse mental health effects like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Supporting mental health resources and fostering social connections within communities can help individuals cope with climate-related stress.

Food Security and Nutrition

Changing weather patterns can disrupt agriculture, leading to food scarcity and compromised nutrition. Reduced crop yields and nutritional quality of staple foods can result in malnutrition and related health issues, particularly in vulnerable regions. Support local and sustainable food systems and consider adopting diets, such as plant-based or Mediterranean diets, with a lower environmental impact to promote food security.

Climate change is not a distant threat; its impacts on human health are already visible and growing. By understanding the ways in which climate change affects your well-being, you can better prepare and protect yourself and your community.


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