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Heat Advisory: Protecting Health on a Warming Planet
by Dr. Alan Lockwood

Drawing on peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, Dr. Lockwood meticulously details the symptoms of climate change and their medical side effects.

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Air Quality

Global warming and air pollution are related problems linked by the combustion of fossil fuels. The burning of coal, oil, and natural gas produces not only greenhouse gases, but also a range of harmful air pollutants, including ozone, airborne particulates, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Exposure to these pollutants causes a number of adverse health effects ranging from shortness of breath and coughing to lung cancer and premature death. As emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise, so too will emissions of these harmful air pollutants. Increasing temperatures will further worsen air quality problems across the United States. Hotter temperatures will speed the formation of ground-level ozone, the main component of smog. Smog exposure damages the lungs and can lead to the development and aggravation of chronic lung diseases, such as asthma. Higher temperatures, combined with elevated carbon dioxide levels, may also increase the concentration of natural air pollutants, such as pollen, which will exacerbate the symptoms of people with allergies. Additionally, as people struggle to adapt to warmer temperatures, increased energy use to power air conditioners on hot days would put even greater amounts of pollutants into the air.

Download PSR's Fact Sheets:

Air Pollution Effects on the Cardiovascular System (PDF)

Air Pollution Effects on the Respiratory System
 
(PDF)

Air Pollution Effects on the Nervous System
 
(PDF)

The Medical and Public Health Impacts of Global Warming (PDF)

Particulate Matter (PDF)

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Resources

  • Video: Fracking - Too Dirty, Too Dangerous

    Former executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Catherine Thomasson, MD, presents findings from PSR's report "Too Dirty, Too Dangerous: Why Health Professionals Reject Natural Gas". It is based on summaries of recent medical and scientific studies which clearly convey the health threats that accompany use of methane as a fuel. Read more »

  • Webinar: The Fight for Solar

    Solar energy is one of our best hopes for a clean energy future – yet some utility companies are trying to stifle the spread of rooftop solar. Learn more about the fight for rooftop ("distributed") solar. Read more »

  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Fact Sheet

    RGGI has significantly reduced air pollution from fossil fuel power plants, improving the health of people living in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. Read more »

In the Spotlight

  • November 30, 2016
    Eating for Climate and Health
    PSR's new PowerPoint presentation on how climate change impacts food production, and agriculture's contribution to climate change.