Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Climate change will mean increased health risks in the UK

Health Protection Agency (UK): Risks to public health in the UK from climate change are spelled out in a report published today by the Health Protection Agency. The study, Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2012, is an extensive update of earlier reports published by the Department of Health and the report is also being presented at the HPA's annual conference - Health Protection 2012 - at the University of Warwick today.

Alongside a more detailed look at the effect of temperature rises on death rates in hot and cold spells, the scientists also investigated the effects a changing climate will have on pollen production, outdoor and indoor air pollution, floods, ultraviolet radiation, food, water and insect-borne diseases.

...This report, which uses the latest UK climate projections published in 2009, also includes a more detailed analysis of the effect rising temperatures will have on death rates in hot and cold spells. Using new models, and taking population changes into account, the report predicts that by the 2080s there may be on average more than 12,000 heat related deaths a year in the UK – compared to about 2,000 a year now. It also suggests that;
  • Premature deaths and respiratory hospital admissions related to ozone exposure may increase as a result of climate change.
  • The warmer climate will mean that the UK pollen season may start earlier and last longer.
  • Climate change may lead to increased risks to health from building overheating, and biological and chemical contamination indoors.
  • Populations of exotic mosquitoes, which could spread chikungunya and dengue fever, are establishing in Europe, and the chances of these mosquitoes establishing in the UK will increase with changing climatic conditions.
  • Carefully considered Government policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions could also lead to direct health benefits – for example, cuts in amounts of fossil fuels being burned for power generation will also lead to a fall in particulate air pollution.

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