Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Respiratory diseases to worsen with climate change: Lung doctors

Climate change will bring more lung disease: Doctors
Lung doctors are predicting worldwide increases in the incidences of asthma, allergies, infectious and cardiovascular diseases because of climate change, according to a position paper released earlier this month.

As the planet heats up, not only will average temperatures rise, but ozone levels in urban areas are increasing, more desert-like areas will appear and there will be more ranges of communicable diseases, the respiratory and airway physicians state.

The American Thoracic Society published the position paper to help its members know how to respond to these changes and to say that international cooperation may be needed to deal with these anticipated health effects of global warming.

The society is based in the United States, but has members around the world.

The researchers are particularly concerned about the effects of deteriorating air quality on the respiratory system, especially when it comes to smoke and particulate matter from more wildfires, airborne particles from dust storms and other air pollution issues.

Other air concerns include mold spores. Some mold spores that previously were only seen in Central America can now be traced to as far north as Vancouver, BC, which can lead to more allergies and asthma problems.

Also, some infectious diseases common in the Mediterranean region have been traveling as far north as Scandinavia as the climate is warming up.

Some individuals will be more susceptible to health impacts from climate change, the doctors say, including vulnerable populations such as infants and young children or the elderly.

The paper was published online and in print in the Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society.

Source: University of California – Davis Health System

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