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Healthy planet, places and people at risk
Date:10/30/2007

Australians face increasingly large-scale health risks from our expanding impact on the natural environment, ranging from increases in weather extremes and dengue fever to obesity, diabetes and mental health.

Twelve of Australias top health and medical researchers have contributed to a new report which concludes that rapid environmental and climatic changes pose increasing risks to the health of Australians.

Released today by Research Australia, the Healthy Planet, Places and People Report found that:

  • Deaths from heart attacks, strokes and respiratory disease, from increases in heatwaves, could double or triple by 2050;
  • Asthma already affecting 3 in 20 children and 1 in 10 adults is likely to increase in some groups;
  • The incidence and geographic range of some mosquito-borne infectious diseases will increase;
  • Food poisoning with 5.4 million cases reported each year is also likely to rise;
  • Viral infections such as avian flu and SARS will spread more readily as population density, people movement, trade and land clearing increase.

Professor Tony McMichael of the Australian National University, who led the report and is part of the Nobel Prize winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that researchers are just beginning to recognise the health implications of a warmer planet.

Our rapidly expanding impact on the natural environment is casting a huge shadow over the health of future generations, Prof McMichael said.

It is not just a warmer planet and weather disasters climate change is one of many environmental changes. Our health is also endangered by depleted water flows, land degradation, disrupted ecosystems and acidified oceans. We need better understanding of these risks, and how to reduce them, through new research.

The report was commissioned by Research Australia to commemorate Thank You Day (November 20, 2007), Australians
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Contact: Julie Sheather
julie@mandarinmedia.com
61-040-951-4643
Research Australia
Source:Eurekalert

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