Georges Benjamin

Note: Full text of this blog post by APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, can be viewed in The Huffington Post.

April 6-12 is National Public Health Week, which this year carries the theme “Healthiest Nation 2030.” EPA and the American Public Health Association are shining a light on the harmful health effects of climate change and making the case for strong climate action.


Gina McCarthyWe constantly see devastating climate impacts threaten the health of communities around the country. After Hurricane Sandy left New York City dark and underwater, nurses at NYU’s Langone Medical Center had to use the glow of their cellphones to care for infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The historic drought in the West has led to forest fires and water restrictions and is still punishing people and businesses. Climate change supercharges risks for extreme storms, floods, fires, and drought that destabilize communities, especially those least equipped to defend themselves.

Health risks from climate change are not just born from the crushing infrastructure and weather impacts. The carbon pollution fueling climate change comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide that lead to asthma and respiratory illnesses — including some cancers. As temperatures rise, smog becomes worse and allergy seasons get longer, further risking our families’ health and making it harder for kids to breathe. Warmer temperatures also increase vector-borne diseases by expanding seasons and geographic ranges for ticks, mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects to roam.

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