Climate change represents a massive direct threat to respiratory health by promoting or aggravating respiratory diseases or indirectly by increasing exposure to risk factors for respiratory diseases according to research published in European Respiratory Journal. The main diseases of concern are asthma, rhinosinusitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory tract infections.
As per the study, individuals with pre-existing cardiopulmonary diseases are at higher risk of suffering from climate changes. Climate change, coupled with air pollutant exposures, may have potentially serious adverse consequences for human health, it said.
The research has underlined that the most important biological component of ambient air is pollen and its allergen is the driver of airborne allergic diseases that are very common in industrialised countries and its prevalence is increasing in the developing world. The study puts together evidence on how the effects of climate change, including as heatwaves, wildfires, and flooding, would increase breathing difficulties for millions of people worldwide, particularly newborns, young children, and the elderly.
“Climate change increases the amount of pollen and allergen produced by each plant, mould proliferation and the concentrations of outdoor ozone and particulate matter at ground level. A body of evidence suggests that major changes involving the atmosphere and climate have an impact on the biosphere and human environment. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, in the earth’s atmosphere have already substantially warmed the planet, causing more severe and prolonged heat waves, temperature variability, increased length and severity of the pollen season, air pollution, forest fires, droughts, and heavy precipitation events and floods, all of which put respiratory health at risk”, said the study.
However, the research has said that, “Overall, it is not easy to evaluate the impact of climate changes and air pollution on the prevalence of respiratory diseases in general and on the timing of their exacerbations, but the global rise in the prevalence and severity of these diseases indicates that air pollution and climate changes could be contributing”.