Climate Change & Our Lungs

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The Full Impact

In our last article, we talked about the various people and places that are most at risk as a result of climate change.  Most people tend to understand that climate change has an impact on temperature/weather patterns. Many people also know that it can have a disrupting effect on food supplies whether from crops or animal resources.

However, for most of us, these major environmental changes often manage to go by relatively unnoticed.  We tend to live our lives driving to and from work in air conditioned cars, having no limit to selection of foods on our grocery store shelves, and no doubt that turning the faucet will produce an endless stream of pure drinkable water.

Most of us are simply out of touch with what’s going on in our environment.  The luxuries of the first world often make it harder to see the drastic impacts that climate change is having on our lives behind the scenes.  However, your lungs and body are experiencing the difference, even if you don’t pay it much attention..



Infographic

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What about climate change?

Air Pollution

Drier weather from climate change leads to an increase in many different types of air pollution. From ozone, to droughts, dust storms and wildfires. Climate change is having a major impact on the particles and pollution in the air that you breath.



Places at risk

Allergens

If it seems that your allergies are getting worse and worse every year, it’s because the environmental factors that contribute to your allergies are getting worse and worse every year!  Colder or wetter weather often increases mold growth and mold spores in the air.  But even the inverse can be bad.  Warmer, drier weather allows for major allergen producing plants, grasses and weeds to have longer growing seasons. This increases their ability to release allergy inducing pollens and spores into the air.  Climate change is disrupting the delicate balance between these allergen sources and their growing seasons.



Places at risk

Flooding & Extreme Weather

One thing that most people often don’t realize is that drier weather can actually make flooding more likely!  As soil and dirt dries out it can become incredibly hard and compact. Have you ever picked up or stepped on a dried out dirt clod? They can be as hard as rocks. So when rain does return, it is nearly impossible for it to penetrate the soil quickly and be absorbed. This contributes to flash flooding, because the water has to go somewhere. If it can’t go into the ground, it will rush to the nearest waterways or low lying areas, causing streams to swell and rivers to overflow their levies.




Who is at risk?

Wildfires

Finally, it’s no surprise that high heat and extended periods of dry weather make fires more likely and more dangerous.  Every year it seems there is a new wildfire that is making the news. Scorching millions of acres of land and taking thousands of homes, and sometimes lives, with it.  Beyond just the local areas affected by forest or grass fires, the soot and debris can become airborne and carried for hundreds of miles on the wind currents.  As it settles in your neighborhood, you may notice your allergies acting up, but may not be able to pinpoint why.  The answer is often Climate Change.