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changed a lot since I was kid. But it really didn’t hit home until that day that climate change could affect my health and the health of my children personally,” recalls Ahdoot. “I realized it would be a betrayal of my duty as a pediatrician to sit back and do nothing about it.”


Health Care Alert Ahdoot, now a vocal climate change activist, is among a growing number of healthcare professionals that have begun to reframe cli- mate change not as a concern for elsewhere or the future, but as a pressing U.S. public health issue today. In one recent survey of 1,200 allergists, 48 percent said climate change is already affecting their patients a “great deal” or a “moderate amount.” In another survey of lung specialists, 77 percent said they were seeing patient symptoms grow more severe due to worsening cli- mate-related air quality. In a sweeping review published last


Healthy Climate, Healthy People


Why a Warming Planet is Harming Our Health


by Lisa Marshall S 28


amantha Ahdoot’s son Isaac was nine years old when he collapsed from the heat while playing clarinet at band


camp. It had been a record-hot summer following a mild winter and early spring, and Dr. Ahdoot, an Alexandria, Virginia, pediatrician, had already noticed a string of unusual cases: A toddler had contracted Lyme disease in the once tick-free region of Northern Maine. A teenager had suffered an asthma attack in February, a full month before she usually started taking allergy medicine. A displaced grade-schooler


NA Triangle www.natriangle.com


from out of town arrived trauma- tized aſter fleeing a hurricane-rav- aged home with her family. But it wasn’t until she saw her son laying on a gurney in the emergency room with an IV in his arm that she fully connected the dots.


“I was aware that the weather had


October in Te Lancetmedical journal, a team of healthcare professionals proclaimed that the human symptoms of climate change are “unequivocal and potentially irrevers- ible,” noting that since 2000, the number of people in the United States exposed to heat waves annually has risen by about 14.5 million, and the number of natural disasters annually has increased 46 percent. Te U.S. Centers for Disease Control


and Prevention has also begun to weigh in with a Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative to help local health departments brace for everything from the hazardous air quality associated with more forest fires to the spread of vector-borne diseases like Zika and West Nile as the range and season


Boris Ryaposov/Shutterstock.com


Ase/Shutterstock.com


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