New Report Sounds the Alarm on Harms to Human Health from Climate Change | American Lung Association

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New Report Sounds the Alarm on Harms to Human Health from Climate Change

Assessment establishes greater urgency for Colorado to act on climate change

(April 6, 2016) - DENVER

On Monday, during National Public Health Week, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released a first of its kind report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, which documents the strong scientific evidence that climate change endangers public health today, and projects alarming impacts in the future. 

The health assessment synthesizes the scientific literature, including peer-reviewed quantitative analyses of observed and projected health impacts from climate change in the United States. It paints a grim picture of a future without climate action: one in which air quality is degraded due to rising temperatures, ozone, drought and wildfires; heavy rains are more frequent; heat waves are hotter and hurricanes are more severe. The issues highlighted in the report of most concern to the American Lung Association in Colorado (ALAC) are the consequences of higher temperatures on ozone levels and, consequently, worsened lung disease symptoms. 

Chris Stanley, MD, MBA, Chairman of the Board for ALAC, thinks the report is eye opening, "The health impacts of climate change are real, and they will continue to get worse. This report shines a bright light on the health issues we are currently experiencing as a nation, and in Colorado, and it projects more severe health impacts in the future." 

In Colorado, climate change threatens to raise the frequency and intensity of ozone, the state’s largest air pollution issue. Wildfires also contribute to the formation of ozone and a severe rise in particulate matter, both of which are linked to lung disease exacerbation and premature death. Another key finding in the report is that the health impacts of climate change will impact our most vulnerable populations the most, including children, the elderly, people with lung or cardiovascular disease, the poor, and minority communities. 

Yet, in an effort to stop our state’s plans to reduce carbon pollution and counteract the health impacts of climate change, Colorado lawmakers are gambling with our air protections by threatening to defund the entire air quality department responsible for keeping us safe. 

The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment establishes even greater urgency for all states, including Colorado, to act on the Clean Power Plan, and for continued progress at the federal level. Colorado’s legislature needs to stop playing games and continue planning for a reduction in carbon emissions to protect the health of our residents. 

"This report is proof that the impacts of climate change are not just environmental - they pose a serious threat to the health of our most vulnerable communities," says Curt Huber, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Colorado.

The USGCRP climate and health assessment comes as 17 national health and medical organizations released a joint Declaration on Climate Change and Health, urging immediate action to address the health impacts of climate change. As part of the declaration, the organizations urged leaders across the country to address climate change now by cleaning up major sources of carbon pollution, including power plants, cars, trucks and other mobile sources.  

The declaration by 17 national health and medical groups can be found here. The USGCRP’s report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States, can be found here.

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About the American Lung Association in Colorado 

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit the newly redesigned website: Lung.org.

About LUNG FORCE

LUNG FORCE is a new national movement led by the American Lung Association to unite women against lung cancer, the #1 cancer killer of women. LUNG FORCE has three priorities: 1) Make lung cancer a cause that people care about – and act on; 2) Educate and empower patients and healthcare providers and 3) Raise critical funds for lung cancer research. The American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE is nationally presented by CVS Health. Find out more at LUNGFORCE.org.

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