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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)

Page Updated July 23, 2012

Action Alerts

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Resources

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    As PSR chapters promote the transition to clean renewable energy, some are finding that nuclear power is being proposed as renewable. This webinar explores exactly why nuclear is not clean, not safe and not renewable. Read more »

  • Fracking Compendium 5 Water Excerpt

    Given the timely and important consideration of the issue by state officials in Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with Concerned Health Professionals of New York, has released excerpts from the upcoming Fifth Edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking. Released in Miami in advance of the full report, this new document contains an up-to-date analysis and compilation of the science on water contamination risks from drilling, fracking, and associated activities. Read more »

  • Natural Gas: Not a healthy or climate-protective solution for the Clean Power Plan

    Building natural gas plants to replace coal-fired power is not a solution to the climate crisis; it merely replaces one fossil fuel with another. Read more »

In the Spotlight

  • April 28, 2018
    2018 Greenfield Peace Writing Scholarship Awards Ceremony
    Join Oregon PSR to celebrate the high school student winners of this year's scholarship. Featuring keynote speaker Marshallese anti-nuclear and climate activist and poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. April 28 at 6 pm in Portland, Oregon.