Atmosphere, Air Quality, and Temperature Extremes

    Adaptation to impacts of climate change on aeroallergens and allergic respiratory diseases

    P.J. Beggs. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2010) 7(8):3006-3021. Climate change has the potential to have many significant impacts on aeroallergens such as pollen and mould spores, and therefore related diseases such as asthma and allergic rhinitis. This paper critically reviews this topic, with a focus on the potential adaptation measures that have been identified to date.

    Aeroallergens, allergic disease, and climate change: Impacts and adaptation

    C.E. Reid, J.L. Gamble. EcoHealth (2009) 6(3):458-470. As regional climates change, plants can move into new areas and changes in atmospheric circulation can blow pollen- and spore-containing dust to new areas, thus introducing people to allergens to which they have not been exposed previously. Climate change also influences the concentrations of airborne pollutants, which alone, and in conjunction with aeroallergens, can exacerbate asthma or other respiratory illnesses. (PDF, 264.3 KB)

    Air quality in a changing climate

    Environmental Health Perspectives (2011) 119(4):A154-A155. Because air quality and climate are inextricably linked, most sources emit contaminants that impact both the levels of traditional air pollutants and the set of climate "forcers" (carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon, and others) now of great concern. (PDF, 150.5 KB)

    Analysis of airborne Betula pollen in Finland: A 31-year perspective

    E. Yli-Panula et al. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2009) 6(6):1706-1723. Increases in temperature, especially during months preceding the onset of the birch pollen season, favor preseason phenological development and pollen dispersal. To date, the public health burden associated with personal exposure to elevated birch pollen loads remains unclear and is the focus of future epidemiological research.

    Arctic glacial dust may affect climate and health in North America and Europe

    ScienceDaily, February 20, 2010. Residents of the southern United States and the Caribbean have seen in summer months a whitish haze in the sky that seems to hang around for days. The resulting thin film of dust on their homes and cars actually is soil from the deserts of Africa, blown across the Atlantic Ocean. Now, there is new evidence that similar dust storms in the Arctic, possibly caused by receding glaciers, may be making similar deposits in northern Europe and North America.

    Climate change set to increase ozone-related deaths over next 60 years, scientists warn

    Science Daily, September 27, 2011. Scientists are warning that death rates linked to climate change will increase in several European countries over the next 60 years.

    Climate change, ozone, and ultraviolet radiation

    Chapter 11 of AMAP Assessment Report: Arctic Pollution Issues, published in 1998 by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. (PDF, 2.77 MB)

    Extreme allergies and global warming

    Report by the National Wildlife Federation, 2010. Much is still unknown about the incidence of asthma and allergies, trends in airborne allergens, the relationship between allergies and climate, and the interconnections between airborne allergens and both climate and nonclimate risk factors. (PDF, 1.43 MB)

    Extreme temperature episodes and mortality in Yakutsk, East Siberia

    B.A. Revich, D.A. Shaposhnikov. Remote and Rural Health (2010) 10(2):1338. Although the health impacts of heat waves and, to a lesser extent, cold spells in big cities in moderate climates have been well documented, little is known about the same impacts in the circumpolar region. An epidemiological study in an Arctic town presents considerable difficulties for the statistician because of small population sizes. The aim of this study was to take these difficulties into account and assess the impacts of extreme temperature events on mortality rates in Yakutsk, a city with a strongly continental climate, situated near the north pole.

    Future climate change may increase asthma attacks in children

    Science Daily, August 30, 2011. Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers have found that climate change may lead to more asthma-related health problems in children, and more emergency room visits in the next decade.

    Heat health planning: The importance of social and community factors

    J. Yardley et al. Global Environmental Change (2011) 21(2):670-679. This paper reviews the literature on the social and community level factors that affect heat-related morbidity and mortality in order to identify shortfalls in current heat health response plans so that new approaches can be recommended.

    Heat stroke in Alaska's Arctic

    J. Burke, Alaska Dispatch, July 20, 2011. Generally, Alaskans aren't confronted with suffocating heat waves like the one much of the United States is currently dealing with. But that doesn't mean heat in the nation's westernmost and northernmost outpost isn't ever an issue.

    Mysteries of ozone depletion continue 25 years after the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole

    Science Daily, August 30, 2011. Even after many decades of studying ozone and its loss from our atmosphere miles above Earth, plenty of mysteries and surprises remain, including an unexpected loss of ozone over the Arctic this past winter.

    Ozone and ultraviolet radiation

    Chapter 5 (pages 151-182) of ACIA Scientific Report, Cambridge University Press, 2005. Because of the low solar elevation in the Arctic, the region is subject to an increased proportion of diffuse UV radiation, from scattering in the atmosphere as well as from reflectance off snow and ice. A reduction in snow and ice cover on the surface of rivers, lakes, or oceans is likely to increase the exposure of many organisms to damaging UV radiation. (PDF, 1.19 MB)

    Ozone levels over the Arctic hit all-time low

    P. Thomson, PRI's "The World," April 5, 2011. Scientists with the UN's World Meteorological Organization reported that ozone levels over the Arctic were down as much as 40 percent at the end of this year's northern winter. That's roughly a third worse than the previous low, and it's bad news for people in much of the northern hemisphere, because it means a lot more of the sun's damaging ultraviolet radiation may be hitting many of us.

    Persistent organic pollutants in large concentrations in Arctic areas: Fires spread environmental toxins over the Arctic

    ScienceDaily, June 1, 2010. Forest fires and straw and stubble burning in North America and Eastern Europe are leading to record-high concentrations of the environmental toxin PCB over Svalbard. As a result of climate change, airborne pollution is thus becoming an increasing problem in the Arctic.

    Planet allergy

    C. Gagné, Allergic Living (2009). Wasp sting reactions in Alaska, wildfire pollution, unprecedented mold levels, and robust ragweed simply everywhere. Our increasingly warm Earth is a giant hothouse for allergy and asthma triggers that are evolving and expanding.

    Predicting effects of climate change, with Kristie Ebi

    Podcast and transcript of a 2009 interview from The Researcher's Perspective, the podcast series from Environmental Health Perspectives. Dr. Kristie Ebi is a leading authority on the potential impacts of climate change on human health. She is an independent consultant and has served on numerous scientific panels, including the highly influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Public health impacts of climate change in Washington state: Projected mortality risks due to heat events and air pollution

    E. Jackson et al. Climatic Change (2010) 102(1-2):159-186. Public health interventions aimed at protecting Washington's population from excessive heat and increased ozone concentrations will become increasingly important for preventing deaths, especially among older adults. Furthermore, heat- and air-quality-related illnesses that do not result in death, but are serious nevertheless, may be reduced by the same measures.

    Record-low Arctic ozone leads to high UV radiation in Finland

    Yale Environment 360, April 5, 2011. The effects of record low ozone over the Arctic have reached southern Scandinavia, where large ozone-depleted air masses have produced higher ultraviolet radiation levels in Finland, scientists say.

    The effect of high ambient temperature on the elderly population in three regions of Sweden

    J. Rocklöv, B. Forsberg. In areas that today have mild climates the research activity has been rather limited, despite the fact that differences in temperature susceptibility will play a fundamental role in understanding the exposure, acclimatization, adaptation and health risks of a changing climate. (PDF, 173.13 KB)

    Toward a quantitative estimate of future heat wave mortality under global climate change

    R.D. Peng et al. Environmental Health Perspectives (2011) 119(5):701-706. Climate change is anticipated to affect human health by changing the distribution of known risk factors. Heat waves have had debilitating effects on human mortality, and global climate models predict an increase in the frequency and severity of heat waves. (PDF, 331 KB)

    Unprecedented Arctic ozone loss in 2011

    G.L. Manney et al. Nature (2011) doi:10.1038/nature10556. The authors demonstrate that chemical ozone destruction over the Arctic in early 2011 was, for the first time in the observational record, comparable to that in the Antarctic ozone hole. Read more about the study in a CBC News article and in a Science Daily article.

    Use of a remote car starter in relation to smog and climate change perceptions: A population survey in Québec (Canada)

    D. Bélanger709. Remote car starters encourage motorists to warm up their vehicles by idling the motor, thus increasing atmospheric pollutants, including several greenhouse gases (GHG), with impacts on public health. This study about climate change adaptation and mitigation actions examined perceptions on air pollution and climate change and individual characteristics associated with the use of a remote car starter. (PDF, 431 KB)

    Weather, climate, and public health

    F. Ballester et al. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2003) 57(10):759-760. The relation between environmental temperature and health has been known for a very long time. However, there is growing worry concerning the potential impact on health of an increase of ambient temperature because of the process of "global warming." (PDF, 120 KB)

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