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Climate change threatens health in the Pacific Northwest



SEATTLE – About this time last year, the news channels made alarming headlines: Breathing the air outside was as bad as smoking several cigarettes. Wildfire haze turned off the sun and turned the moon orange. In weather apps, the prediction was simply listed as "smoke".

Just because this summer was clear does not mean it's good for the environment.

Smoke from forest fires could be the most obvious impact of climate change Washington is still facing other threats. Some predicted health effects include heat stroke, dehydration, worsened pollen allergies, and increased risk of cancer. And while local scientists have a plan to fix, they are worried that nobody is working on it.

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9659002] Meanwhile, climate researchers predict smoother summers. On Wednesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a study that found that 245 people were directly and indirectly killed in a year by forest fires in Washington state. The study estimated the cost of these "premature deaths" at $ 2.2 billion and $ 55 million for dealing with associated diseases.

The 2012 NRDC study looked at climate change-related events in 10 states and was an attempt to set a dollar to pay for how climate change is damaging human health. The researchers came to the numbers by examining published, peer-reviewed literature, and state and federal government reports.

Wisconsin, which is not normally associated with heat, recorded 27 deaths from extreme heat in 2012, according to the NRDC study. The state between Minnesota and the Great Lakes suffered from record highs for a week this summer.

"I see things that I did not think would happen until 2050," Dr. Kristie Ebi, a professor at the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. "Climate change is approaching us much faster, and the pace of change and the impact on extreme events will be very problematic." Heat waves and floods are becoming more frequent and intense than expected, she said.

Climate change has plagued other parts of the country with extreme heat, catastrophic floods and a growing number of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. While the effects were milder in the Pacific Northwest, "we will not be immune forever," Dr. Jeff Duchin, Public Health Health Officer – Seattle & King County Boosted on warmer days, the region's most vulnerable populations face hardship. Neighborhoods with fewer parks, greenery and trees often become heat islands, where the temperature is higher than in the surrounding areas. Heat and smoke limit the time children spend out and make more people vulnerable to asthma. The lack of air conditioning in West Washington makes it difficult for people and the elderly who need help most.

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Health problems caused by climate change are exacerbating because they work together, making it difficult for healthcare providers to respond, Ebi said. She fears that the region's health facilities are unable to cope with a wave of patients as climate-related health problems accumulate and overwhelm them.

People with diabetes can be weakened by dehydration, as this inhibits the absorption of insulin. Dehydration also increases the likelihood of kidney damage or kidney stones, putting people with kidney disease at greater risk for weather-related damage.

Plants produce more pollen and prolong the allergy season due to increased levels of carbon monoxide in the air. Increased carbon dioxide reduces the nutrients in the plants we eat. Greenhouse gases chew off ozone, leading to increased skin cancer risk.

This summer, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), summer 2016 was the hottest summer in the northern hemisphere since 1880 Monday.

A June study co-authored by Ebi in the Science Advances journal predicted that 725 people in Seattle could die during an extreme heatwave as global temperatures rise 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the pre-industrial era.

A report from UW's The Climate Impacts Group found Washington could rise 67 percent on "very hot days", typically at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, when global temperatures are around 2, 7 degrees Fahrenheit. suitable habitat for mosquitoes, ticks and fleas with Lyme disease and West Nile virus, of which the first Western Washington case was registered last year.

"Our warmer and longer summers are conclusive" In order to mitigate the effects of heat and smoke last summer, the City of Seattle installed new air filtration systems at five public locations to supply people without air conditioning a place to go when the heat rises and the sky is smothered with smoke. In each of the summer of 2017 and 2018, devastating air pollution increased within 24 days.

Knowing and tracking what diseases and problems are heading northwestern the country is an important part of protecting and preparing people for climate change. Public health officials say they must set up systems to track climate change-related health problems, such as Lyme disease, as they approach our region. "We need to monitor when these things appear," said Heidi Roop, a researcher at the Climate Impacts Group.

Dealing with climate-related health problems is proving to be just as difficult as reducing greenhouse gases that cause emissions. Public health officials know that more needs to be done to mitigate existing problems and to prepare for what is to come. To achieve this, further funding is needed, said Duchin.

Duchin and his colleagues at Public Health – Seattle & King County feel this shortage. Although they published a plan to tackle health issues related to climate change two years ago, there is not a single employee dedicated solely to its implementation. Duchin said the plan was "largely ambitious."

The "Draft" contains six core functions and 15 public health strategies to tackle the health problems caused by climate change. Core functions include developing strategies for climate change, preparing and educating leaders and employees.

However, people should not wait for an official response to educate themselves and make their elected officials do more. The Climate Impacts Group scientist added, "When we consider the impact of a problem on our daily lives and our lives Understanding communities makes it easier to see where and how we can initiate change. "

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