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Michigan Health and Medical Professionals Call for Bold Action on Climate Change

(September 21, 2016) -

Today, local health and medical professionals from Michigan and across the country issued "A Health Professionals' Declaration on Climate Change," calling for swift action on climate change to protect public health.

"We, as public health and medical professionals, reiterate our commitment to address climate change on behalf of our patients and communities... The wide-ranging health impacts of climate change demand immediate action," the Declaration states.

In Michigan, health and medical experts from nurses to physicians to respiratory therapists added their name to the Declaration to recognize the threat that climate change poses to local residents, especially those who are most vulnerable, such as children, older adults, those with chronic diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those living in low-income communities.

"As a respiratory therapist, I see firsthand the impact that climate change is having on the health of my patients," said Mike Hess, RRT, Chronic Lung Disease Coordinator at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine "Our policy makers need to take action today to address this serious problem."

Climate change increases the risk of the formation of harmful ozone pollution, and contributes to droughts and wildfires that make unhealthy levels of particle pollution more likely. Ozone and particulate air pollution can cause asthma attacks, cardiovascular problems and even premature deaths.

Growing scientific evidence, including the Climate and Health Assessment released earlier this year by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, warns that inaction on climate change will only contribute further to rising temperatures, heavy rain and drought, and other severe weather events. There is also the potential for areas previously unaffected by climate change to see new or worsening impacts and health threats.

As the Declaration states, bold action is needed to clean up sources of carbon pollution, methane, and other greenhouse gases to reduce the threat this pollution poses to public health. The health and medical community is seeing this firsthand through increasing examples of climate-related health issues in their patients. As they tell the nation through this Declaration, waiting to act will have dangerous consequences on the health of Michigan families.

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