The IPCC (2007) projects, with virtual certainty, declining air quality in cities. Climate change is expected to lead to increases in regional ozone pollution. Further, PM emissions from forest fires are increasing due to climate change and can contribute to acute and chronic illnesses of the respiratory system. Warming and climate extremes are likely to increase respiratory illness, including exposure to ozone. Projected climate change-related exposures are likely to affect the health status of people, through several factors including the increased frequency of cardio respiratory diseases due to higher concentrations of ground level ozone related to climate change. The overall directional impact of climate change on PM levels remains uncertain. The body of literature specifically addressing the potential effects of climate change on PM is limited.
Warmer environments are associated with increased growing periods for plants that can aggravate asthma and COPD. COPD is the 4th leading cause of death for older adults. COPD hospitalizations have reached as high as 2,487 per 100,000 a year. Air pollutants have been associated with hospitalizations for COPD.
What You Can Do to Reduce Exposure to Asthma and COPD Triggers
If you or a loved one experience symptoms of COPD or asthma, consult a doctor and follow a management plan outlined by your health care provider. Environmental triggers can be a problem too.
The key to management of these diseases is through preventive measures and reduced exposure to environmental hazards. Take steps to prevent, control, and reduce the frequency of symptoms to allow you or your loved one to breath easier.
- Avoid tobacco smoke
- Avoid smoke from wood-burning stoves
- Reduce mold, dust mites, and cockroaches in your home
- Keep pets out of sleeping areas
- Check furnace and heating units annually
- Fix water leaks promptly
- Check the Air Quality Index (AQI)
Reduce outdoor activity as much as possible on poor air quality days. The AQI reports how clean the air is and whether it will affect your health. You can learn more about the daily AQI from the website, through newspapers, television, and radio weather reports.