How does climate change affect me?
Climate change affects your health in many ways. Climate change is defined as “a change in the usual weather found in a place.” Climate change can range anywhere from heavy or no rains, or above-average temperatures anywhere across the world. Scientists have proved that climate change is real, one way or another, by examining the amount of human-made gases and carbon dioxide in the air and the co-occurring effects on the environment. Severe climate change and health are closely related, and we’re here to tell you how:
1.Extreme Weather and Your Health
You may be wondering the correlation between weather changes and health. Have you ever heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Seasonal changes affect people with SAD because the dark, gloomy and cold weather affects people’s moods negatively and can affect their wellbeing. However, SAD really isn’t caused by extreme weather.
Instead, extreme weather such as hurricanes or wildfires can cause post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and extremely hot weather can interfere with certain mental health medications.
Warmer summers are occurring across the country, making some cities see a higher death toll during the warmer months due to increased vulnerability among sensitive groups. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that “heat waves are also associated with increased hospital admissions for cardiovascular, kidney, and respiratory disorders,” proving that people’s general health is affected by the changing temperatures around us.
Even if you do not belong to any of the at-risk groups, there are many other complications and consequences of extremely stressful exposures such as pre-term birth, low birth weight, and maternal complications.
2. Air pollution and Asthma
Air pollution is another way that climate change affects your health. If you’re someone who suffers from seasonal allergies, you know how important air quality is to ensure you stay healthy and avoid illnesses such as sinus infections. Extreme weather and air pollution coincide with one another, making seasonal allergies worse than ever. With that being said, asthma is also directly affected by air pollution and air quality.
The chemicals used in factories and companies saturate the ozone, which ends up causing heat, concentrations of precursor chemicals, and methane emissions. Some air pollution, however, is natural and can not be prevented. If any of these harmful gases become abundant, the ozone begins to reduce lung function among people.
Air pollution can also occur in a person’s workplace. For instance, if you work with chemicals or any type of carcinogen or allergen, you’re at-risk for more complications with your lung capacity and function. If you are someone who owns or works at a facility with these harmful elements, be sure you’re taking precaution and providing relevant safety measures. Looking to find out more about workplace safety measures? Click here for more information on our services and how On Demand Occupational Medicine can work with you and your team to ensure health and safety at the workplace.
3. Water Quality and Disease
Just a few examples of water-related diseases include Hepatitis A, Giardia, Salmonella and E. coli. Water quality isn’t always something you can control or keep track of at-home. Instead, agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works to regulate drinking water across the country and monitors the amount of chemicals or pollutants involved in public water systems.
Water contamination occurs when water is not properly monitored, but the root of the problem goes deeper than just filtration— this is where toxins and harmful elements used by humans and large factories come back into play. Fertilizers and pesticides are some examples of overused and harmful toxins that can be absorbed into the soil causing it to become part of our water supply. It is important for farmers and factories to be mindful of the chemicals they are using.
When advice from the EPA and CDC are ignored, companies can be fined or even shut down depending on their violations. However, the effects on human life still linger as it may be too late to reverse the symptoms or illnesses brought on by poor water quality.
Tip: Purchasing filtration systems such as Brita can help to filter your tap water before consuming it.
Climate change affects your health in many ways, and it is crucial to understand how you can help protect your health as well as others. Keep in mind not all of the above reasons are just examples of severe climate and health, but about human error in our ecosystem. Find out more on ways to help by visiting our friends at the World Health Organization.