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Medical Groups Warn Of Climate Change's Potential Impact on Health
Date:2/25/2011

luding worrying changes in insect migration. "Many states are facing increases in insect-borne illnesses," Wilson pointed out. "For example dengue fever, a condition that has rarely been seen in this country, has appeared in Florida."

Lyme disease has also increased tenfold in the past 10 years, Wilson added.

And the increase in greenhouse gases has increased air pollution, he said. "Over the past three decades, poor air quality has extended the allergy and asthma season, in this country, by about 20 days. Asthma rates have doubled and other respiratory diseases are also on the rise."

Dr. Perry Sheffield, deputy director of the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit for EPA Region 2, and an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and the department of preventive medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, noted that reducing air pollution can have immediate health benefits.

"When air pollution was reduced during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, asthma attacks among children dropped by 44 percent," she said during the press conference.

Burnett agreed that the burden of asthma has increased in the United States, but he doesn't think it has anything to do with climate change or greenhouse gases.

"It's not clear to me that you are going to get it from a warmer world," he said.

More information

For more information on health and climate change, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

SOURCES: Feb. 24, 2011, teleconference with: Georges Benjamin, M.D., executive director, American Public Health Association; Cecil Wilson, M.D., president, American Medical Association; Perry Sheffield, M.D., deputy director, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, EPA Region 2, and assistant professor, department of pediatrics and department of preventive medicine, Mount Sinai
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