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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)

Action Alerts

  • Vote for clean air!

    Tell your U.S. Representative to vote against H.R. 806 which weakens delays implementation of the updated ozone rules by eight years and tries to dismantle the Clean Air Act.

  • Tell the EPA: Don't delay methane protections

    Tell the EPA: don't delay the proposed rule to capture leaking methane gas. Our health and the health of the climate cannot wait!

More action alertsĀ»

Resources

  • PSR Expert Testimony on Coal Ash

    Chesapeake PSR is suing the EPA over a proposed delay in a rule that slashes coal ash waste discharges into rivers and streams. PSR National Environment & Health Director Barbara Gottlieb gave expert testimony on the health impacts of coal ash disposal. Read more »

  • Barbara Gottlieb's Testimony on EPA Methane Standards

    On July 10, 2017, PSR Environment & Health Director Barbara Gottlieb testified before the EPA against a proposed rollback of a methane regulation that would reduce leaks from oil and gas wells. Read more »

  • Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit

    PSR and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units have just introduced the updated Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit (PEHT). This free web app offers evidenced-based information for clinicians to educate parents about how to reduce toxic exposures during well-child visits. 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.