Climate change is an increasingly pertinent issue and one that could potentially have a hugely detrimental impact on our planet and on the people living on it. A new piece of research has revealed that those with existing lung conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may be at greater risk from the effects of climate change than those without.
The findings, published in the European Respiratory Journal, suggested that the combination of air pollution and rising temperatures could be particularly hazardous to those with lung conditions. The research was based on data collected from over 160 countries and showed that air pollution and climate change are likely to increase the number of deaths due to respiratory illnesses.
The researchers concluded that there is an urgent need to address the contribution of air pollution to global climate change, as well as how the combination of air pollution and rising temperatures can affect people with pre-existing lung conditions. The study also highlighted the need for increased access to healthcare for those most vulnerable to these changes. They calling on the European Parliament and governments around the world to urgently reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Professor Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, Chair of the European Respiratory Society’s Environment and Health Committee and based at the University of Copenhagen, was an author of the report, ‘Climate change and respiratory health: a European Respiratory Society position statement’.
She said: “Climate change affects everyone’s health, but arguably, respiratory patients are among the most vulnerable. These are people who already experience breathing difficulties and they are far more sensitive to our changing climate. Their symptoms will become worse, and for some, this will be fatal.
“Air pollution is already damaging our lungs. Now the effects of climate change are becoming a major threat to respiratory patients.”
The report particularly highlights the extra risk to babies and children, whose lungs are still developing.
This year, new records have been set for high temperatures around the world, and Europe has experienced heatwaves, devastating wildfires, rainstorms and flooding.
“As respiratory doctors and nurses, we need to be aware of these new risks and do all we can to help alleviate patients’ suffering,” Professor Jovanovic Andersen said. “We also need to explain the risks to our patients so they can protect themselves from adverse effects of climate change.”
Professor Jovanovic Andersen said: “The current limits are outdated and fail to protect the health of EU citizens. Ambitious new air quality standards would ensure cleaner air and better health for all Europeans, as well as helping to mitigate climate change crises. We urge the European Parliament to adopt and enforce safer limits without delay.
“We all need to breath clean, safe air. That means we need action from policymakers to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our planet and our health."
(With ANI Inputs)