Health Impacts from Weather and Climate

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Over the years people have experienced massive changes in climate conditions. These causes are often natural like seasonal variations, atmospheric and oceanic circulations and at other times result from human activities. Pollution and global warming is hugely responsible for changes in climate conditions. Weather and climate have an important role to play in the health of the population. Climate changes affect people adversely. Adversities of weather have always led to diseases and the spread of infections. Impacts of climate change however depend on a number of factors like preparation to combat the attack, age, exposure to climate change, etc.


Impacts from Heat Waves

High temperatures and subsequent heat waves cause heat strokes and dehydration in people. In northern latitudes, people are less used to high temperatures and heatwaves in those areas are more likely to have adverse effects on people. Young children and people with ill health are the most vulnerable part of the population. Increased use of air conditioning in summer leads to an increased need for electricity. This is turn increases the emission of greenhouse gases. Air pollution and high temperature increase the number and instances of associated health effects. Impacts from Extreme Weather Events: Intense weather events like tropical storms and hurricanes not only cause damage to life and property but also affect human health. The aftermath of floods and such events usually accompany stomach illnesses, cholera, the spread of infections among people leading to further deaths.

Impacts from Reduced Air Quality

A decrease in air quality or an increase in air pollution has led to an unbelievable number of diseases in people.

Warmer temperatures lead to increased levels of ground level ozone. It is a harmful air pollutant causing damage of lung tissues and functioning of the lungs. Other respiratory problems can develop and asthma may worsen due to its effects. Chest pain and inflammation of the airways is another harmful effect of increase in ozone levels. It also makes people less resistant to cold and pneumonia. Since ground level ozone is formed by warm and stagnant air, it mostly affects areas which are already polluted.

Another matter of concern from air pollution is the increase of particulate matter in the air. Particulate matter refers to extremely tiny particles or droplets suspended in the air. These may be smaller than even 2.5 micrometers and arise from chemical reactions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and others. Not only do these particulate matter increase respiratory problems and aggravate asthma, but also increases cardiovascular diseases, lung problems, premature mortality, etc. These are extremely harmful as they are fine enough to enter our body when we breathe and may even mix with the bloodstream. It has been seen that fine particulate matter has also been responsible for chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeats, irritation of the airways and nonfatal heart attacks.

Increase of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere from human activities of pollution or natural events like forest fires can lead to a series of health effects. When carbon monoxide enters our blood, it reacts with hemoglobin to reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood. This affects our brain, nerves and reflex system. It can also affect the developing fetus in pregnant women.