Produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Chiesi Group, a new report Climate change and its impact on lung health: a focus on Europe says climate change is damaging respiratory health in ways not commonly known.i
In Europe, climate change disproportionately affects the vulnerable, those with underlying health conditions and the economically disadvantagedi. The report also finds that it can lead to the onset of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma in previously healthy individuals.i With many still unaware of the risks, climate change could be next biggest respiratory health crisis.
Evidence highlighted by the report shows the many ways climate change is impacting our lung health, and how this is set to worsen in future. Rising temperatures are causing higher ozone levels, extreme weather events and longer pollen seasons which are all impacting respiratory health. These factors combine to create a significant increase in potential mortalities, for example, ozone-related deaths alone have already jumped 20% in a decade.ii Going forward, estimates suggest that for each degree Celsius increase in temperature, premature death risk among respiratory patients is six times that of the general population.iii
By highlighting this stark evidence, respiratory health specialists and certified B Corp Chiesi wants to bring this shocking and urgent truth to a bigger audience, to promote greater understanding and collaboration between sustainability and health experts so that everyone steps up to play their part.
An expert panel worked with the EIU on the report’s conclusions which set out a series of detailed policy recommendations, the most important of which include:
- Ensure climate change policies include improvements to public (respiratory) health and involve all relevant stakeholders in policy development;i
- Raise awareness among healthcare community; i
- Focus on improving air quality, particularly in urban areas where most people live; i
- Reduce emissions and tackle climate change in all sectors;i
- Conduct further research to increase our understanding of the impact of climate change and air quality on lung health.i
i The Economist Intelligence Unit. Climate Change and its impact on lung health: a focus on Europe. September 2021. Available from: https://eiuperspectives.economist.com/healthcare/climate-change-and-its-impact-lung-health-focus-europe. Accessed September 2021.
ii European Environment Agency. Air quality in Europe 2020 report. August 2020. Available from: www.eea.europa.eu/publications/air-quality-in-europe-2020-report. Accessed August 2021
iii D’Amato G., et al, Effects on asthma and respiratory allergy of climate change and air pollution. Multidiscip Respir Med 2015; 10, 39 https://doi.org/10.1186/s40248-015-0036-x