The impacts of climate change on human health in the United States

Climate change and human healthA scientific assessment of the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States is now available which provides “a comprehensive, evidence-based, and, where possible, quantitative estimation” of climate change related health impacts in the United States.
The study was conducted by a team of over 100 scientists from the US departments of Health, Transportation and Agriculture and from NOAA, EPA, NASA the Smithsonian Institution and a special committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. According to the report “this assessment significantly advances what we know about the impacts of climate change on public health, and the confidence with which we know it”.

One example from the report states that climate change contributes to changes in allergic illnesses as greater concentrations of CO2, together with higher temperatures and changes in precipitation, extend the start or duration of the growing season, resulting in an increase in the quantity and allergenicity of pollen, and an expansion in the spatial distribution of pollens. Regarding this, the report coverage includes  two major common allergic illnesses of hay fever which currently affects about one-third of the U.S. population and asthma for which more than 34 million Americans have been diagnosed. The report states “the prevalence of hay fever has increased from 10% of the population in 1970 to 30% in 2000. Asthma rates have increased from approximately 8 to 55 cases per 1,000 persons to approximately 55 to 90 cases per 1,000 persons over that same time period; however, there is variation in reports of active cases of asthma as a function of geography and demographics.”

The report includes a statement from the authoring agencies that it is “designated as a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment (HISA)”. The report was published in 2016 under the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program, April 2016