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With Lack of Funding Public Health Agencies Struggle to Address Climate Threats

Wildfires, heat and other extreme weather events have increased, requiring a greater public health response. With limited funding, public health agencies are struggling to address the needs of communities. Dr. Paul English, researcher and director of PHI’s Tracking California weighs in on climate change and the health impacts.  

smoke from wildfire

“Medical experts say climate change will affect nearly every aspect of public health. Many of those impacts already are being felt.

Heat deaths in the United States are severely undercounted, researchers say, with some studies putting the actual total at thousands each year. Scientists are working to understand the health effects of wildfire smoke, which is an increasing problem in many states as megafires ravage the West.

Paul English
The more we learn, the worse it looks,” said Paul English, director of Tracking California, a data project tracking pollution and disease for the nonprofit research and advocacy Public Health Institute. 

In some places, climate change is expanding the range and prevalence of mosquitoes and ticks — along with the diseases they spread. A Nature Climate Change study published earlier this week found that climate change has already worsened 58% of known infectious diseases. Scientists found that many diseases are becoming more transmissible, reaching new areas and worsening in severity.

Other regions are worried about water quality as droughts and algae blooms threaten crucial drinking water sources. Changes to growing seasons are causing severe allergy problems in some areas. And researchers all over the country say they’re just beginning to learn about the toll climate change is taking on mental health.

But even though state and federal lawmakers have poured billions into clean energy, infrastructure and projects to protect forests and coastlines, little to no climate funding has reached the budgets of many public health departments. Experts say the lack of investment in health agencies could especially harm low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, which already face disproportionate environmental health problems.”

Read the full article by clicking on the link below.

Originally published by The PEW Charitable Trusts - Stateline

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