Respiratory experts have reported that increasing temperatures and changing weather patterns are exacerbating lung health problems, making breathing more difficult for many people.
Their findings, reported by the Guardian, state that our overheating planet likely poses the greatest risk to people with respiratory illnesses.
The Guardian further reported that the European-based experts have called on officials to lower the EU’s regulatory limits for air pollution to match those of the World Health Organization. To hit the point home, they added that the effects of Earth’s rising temperatures and human health have become intertwined and are now “irreversible.”
As reported in the authors’ peer-reviewed paper, the world has seen an increase in pollen and other allergens, as well as more wildfires, dust, and pollution from transportation — all of which have led to worsening existing respiratory conditions and increasing the emergence of new ones.
“Climate change affects everyone’s health, but arguably, respiratory patients are among the most vulnerable,” Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, a professor of environmental epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen and an author of the report, told the Guardian. “These are people who already experience breathing difficulties and they are far more sensitive to our changing climate. Their symptoms will become worse, and for some this will be fatal.”
The warming of our planet and worsening air pollution are direct effects of human activities. According to the Guardian, air pollution was estimated to have killed 6.7 million people globally in 2019.
The Respiratory Health Association states that while indoor and outdoor air pollution is harmful to all people, it is especially dangerous for those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other respiratory ailments.
Additionally, children are especially affected by the climate crisis and air pollution because their lungs are still developing. In childhood, people breathe faster than they do as adults, meaning they inhale two to three times more air, according to the Guardian.
The study’s authors, along with scientists and experts worldwide, assert that reducing the amount of toxic planet-warming gases released into the air and stopping Earth’s overheating would provide “substantially larger and more immediate benefits.”
“We all need to breathe clean, safe air,” Andersen told the Guardian. “That means we need action from policymakers to mitigate [the] impacts of climate change on our planet and our health. As respiratory doctors and nurses, we need to be aware of these new risks and do all we can to help alleviate patients’ suffering.”free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.