For busy health professionals, it's fairly easy to turn a blind eye to issues that don't pertain directly to medicine or fall within the realm of our already established health institutions. It's hard enough to find sufficient time in the week to speak with patients and complete paperwork, so who has time to read news pertaining to the recently proposed methane standards or the U.S. Government's Clean Power Plan? It turns out that these issues are not tangentially related to health issues. They are directly correlated. States like Wyoming put plans in place to address air pollution from oil and gas drilling regions, and are consequently improving public health in those communities. As Lynn Goldman writes in the Huffington Post below, "Even though environmental policymakers are rarely seen as pioneers in children's health, their work is vital to improving public health. The broader climate agenda, including new rules that target sources of methane pollution where they occur, does a lot more than help mitigate climate change - it also delivers better health outcomes." Climate for Health was founded upon this principal. It is imperative that health practioners deliver this message.
By Lynn R. Goldman I January 5, 2016
It is all too easy to forget that a healthy childhood is not just about avoiding germs and preventing accidents. Many air and water pollutants are invisible to the naked eye, so small that we often overlook their role in our children's health.
This fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement on climate change and children's health, noting that children are particularly vulnerable to weather disasters, heat stress, poor air quality and food insecurity, among other threats that come with a warming climate. The organization asserts that given what we know about the link between climate change and children's health, "failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children."
In many ways, then, the U.S. government's climate action plan is truly a public health initiative. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that every dollar invested in the Clean Power Plan, a core component of the climate strategy, will deliver four dollars in health benefits. Another element of the strategy, the recently strengthened ozone standard, will also prevent hundreds of thousands of childhood asthma attacks. Asthma was once an infrequent cause of childhood illness but now it is the leading chronic disease among children, the third-ranking cause of hospitalization, and the number one reason that children miss school.
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