Asheville, NC – November 27, 2018 – Despite being released the day after Thanksgiving, the Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II, which focuses on Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States, received a fair share of attention, and well it should.
I used the science cited in the National Climate Assessment to develop my original DailyBreath Risk Index. By engaging climate scientists at CASE Consultants International led by Marjorie McGuirk, we performed a 700-resource literature review for evidence that correlates specific weather and environmental exposure thresholds with increased allergy symptoms, asthma attacks, and ER visits. Much of that evidence was cited in material referenced in this Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment.
What does this most recent report tell us about the Changing Climate in relation to Respiratory Health? Two chapters devoted to the topics of Health and Air Quality explain why vulnerable populations like asthma sufferers (especially those with allergic asthma) should care and take note.
Wide ranging health impacts to respiratory health from air pollution, allergens, wildfires, and temperature extremes are noted in the assessment.
“Air pollution increases of ground-level ozone and particulate matter is associated with many health problems, such as diminished lung function, increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits for asthma, and increases in premature deaths.”
Allergens have a longer season as “climate change can also increase the duration of the pollen season and the amount of pollen at some locations, as well as worsen respiratory health impacts due to pollen exposure.’ It’s unfortunate that over 60% of those with allergies have never been tested to determine their predominant allergen. This is particularly concerning because “rising temperatures and increased CO2 concentrations can alter plant-based allergens and, thereby, alter the degree of allergic reactions to pollen” and “toxic air pollutants can worsen allergic responses.”
Wildfires spread in more vulnerable forests. “Smoke exposure increases respiratory and cardiovascular hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and medication dispensations for asthma, bronchitis, chest pain, COPD, respiratory infections, and medical visits for lung illnesses.”
Extreme summer heat results in “dramatic increases in death rates during heat waves. Deaths result from heat stroke and related conditions, but also from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Heat waves are also associated with increased hospital admissions for cardiovascular, kidney, and respiratory disorders.”
It is these changes in our climate, no longer just incidental, but becoming a norm, that requires vulnerable populations to respond actively to the risks they are likely to encounter in the future.
For those with asthma, what can they do?
In a changing climate, where it may become more and more challenging to catch your breath, vulnerable populations need to be more informed, aware and prepared. You can’t manage, what you don’t measure, and for asthma sufferers, DailyBreath is a learning and warning system based on patients’ experience of triggers in daily life. Managing and controlling asthma requires an understanding of a patient’s individual sensitivity to exposures and susceptibility to allergy symptoms or breathing difficulty.
If there is any population that should be empowered to avoid the outdoor weather and environmental triggers that threaten them, it’s asthma sufferers. The outcomes for asthma sufferers are burdensome, costly, and potentially life-threatening. Download DailyBreath Today!
Authored by Eric Klos, CEO, DailyBreath. DailyBreath is a personal allergy and asthma learning and warning system based on a patient’s experience of triggers in their daily life.