Climate change could make your health worse

Allergies, asthma will only get worse

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Climate Assessment found increased air pollution and longer lasting extreme heat will have severe impacts on health.

Allergies and asthma will only get worse as climate change has created higher pollen concentrations and longer pollen seasons. Those changes have already impacted many allergy sufferers.

Doctors at Children's Mercy Hospital followed the pollen and mold count for the past 15 years in Kansas City.

What they've seen is a clear trend of increasing allergens in the air.

“When you come in every year and say, ‘Is this the worst pollen season ever?’ I can honestly say it is because every year it is a little bit worse than it was the year before,” Dr. Jay Portnoy, Director of Allergy and Asthma at Children’s Mercy said.

A map included in the assessment shows the difference in temperature on the hottest days now compared to 70 years from now. At our current rate, the Kansas City area would see temperatures average 15 degrees hotter than our current record.

In recent years, cities across the country experienced dramatic spikes in death rates during heat waves.
Another health concern is the spread of disease by ticks and mosquitoes. As the climate changes, so will their habitats.

An increase in ground-level ozone is associated with diminished lung function. The study suggests an increase in hospital and emergency room visits for asthma.

Despite effectiveness of asthma control medication, Dr. Portnoy said more people are taking medicine for their asthma.

“They're taking it for longer but they are getting better effects. Even though we can control it the problem is we have to keep controlling it,” he said.

According to the assessment, “Health-related costs of the current effects of ozone air pollution exceeding national standards have been estimated at $6.5 billion (in 2008 U.S. dollars) nationwide, based on a U.S. assessment of health impacts from ozone levels during 2000 to 2002.”

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