The Colorado Health Institute has just released a research paper looking at the connection between climate change and adverse health outcomes.
“Colorado’s Climate and Colorado’s Health: Examining the Connection,” finds that rising temperatures, polluted air and wildfires are the climate change results expected to most affect the health of Coloradans.
CHI analyst Chrissy Esposito, one of the primary authors of the report says it is the first research by CHI, an independent and nonpartisan health policy research institute, into the impact of climate change on health. “It was prompted by the growing body of scientific research connecting the two.”
The report finds that while Colorado’s average temperature has increased by two degrees Fahrenheit in the past 30 years, significantly outpacing historical trends, extreme heat can affect cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems. Currently, almost six percent of Colorado’s adults have cardiovascular disease, putting them at an increased risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The state’s 1.2 million children are especially vulnerable. Children absorb more heat than adults because they have a greater ratio of skin surface to weight.
Climate change is also impacting air quality with an increase in airborne pollutants such as ozone, carbon dioxide and particulate matter, which in turn impact overall air quality. Health implications include breathing problems and extended allergy seasons. Coloradans who will be most impacted will be seniors with bronchitis or emphysema and the 107,000 children and approximately 380,000 adults with asthma.
Wildfires are also on the rise as a result of climate change and smoke and dust from fires pollute the air. Dirty air is a health hazard, particularly for people with breathing difficulties.