While politicians bicker over the scientific evidence for climate change, increasing numbers of Americans are bearing witness to it with their health. One in 12 people have been diagnosed with asthma, and the numbers are rising. Asthma cases have grown by 4.3 million between 2001 to 2009, according to the CDC.
Asthma, or inflammation of the bronchial tubes, causes swelling which restricts airflow to the lungs. When inhaled, particles in the air from both pollution and allergens cause the lungs to secrete mucus which inhibits breathing. Read more in this article by Dr. Daemon Jones at EmpowHer.
Asthma presents as:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough, especially at night
- Tightness in the chest
Asthma is potentially deadly. The CDC reported 3,447 asthma-related deaths in 2007— about nine deaths per day. According to Scientific American, the triggers of asthma, allergies and air pollution are conditions exacerbated by climate change.
Alan Goldsobel, an allergist with the Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California, said in the same article, ”Plants are starting their pollination season earlier, and it lasts longer,” resulting in increased risk for asthma-related health problems.
In addition, as global temperatures rise, ground-level ozone rises. The Harvard School of Public Heath reported, “Ozone high in our atmosphere protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation. However, at ground level, inhaling ozone harms lungs. Ozone is produced when several chemical byproducts of burning fossil fuels are exposed to sunlight.”
Ground-level ozone is a trigger for asthma attacks in children, and aggravates chronic lung conditions in adults.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a branch of the NIH, lists these effects of climate change on air quality: