4 ways climate change will affect children, experts say

Climate change affects the weather, the air we breathe and the stability of our environment — and children’s health is very fragile with poor air quality, longer allergy seasons, infectious diseases and great heat which makes climate change a threat to public health.

Children’s bodies are still developing. They have no control over their environment. And kids who aren’t White, whose families are low-income or who don’t speak much English will be the hardest hit if temperatures rise, according to a new report published Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency .

Researchers have explored what would happen if the world dropped 2 degrees Celsius – it’s already 1.1 degrees up from pre-industrial levels, despite commitments of world leaders to limit it to 1.5 degrees – and if it warms at 4 degrees.

The report encouraged parents and caregivers to educate children about climate-related health threats and encourage children to speak up when they are uncomfortable or sick. Here are four ways a warming planet will affect — and in some cases is already affecting — children, according to the report.

1. Asthma and severe allergies

Children have small airways and developing immune systems, which means they are already more prone to respiratory diseases and allergies. As wildfires become more common in rising temperatures, children will be hit harder by airborne smoke and fire-related air pollution, the report says.

In addition, carbon dioxide causes plants to release more pollen – making allergies worse. According to the report, oak, birch and grass pollen could increase as much due to climate change pediatric emergency room visits related to asthma Could increase 17%-30% annually. Similarly, new cases of pediatric asthma would increase between 4% and 11%.

2. Diseases carried by insects

Warm, humid weather creates favorable conditions for disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes and ticks. According to the report, as the temperature rises, so do the pediatric cases of disease Lyme disease and West Nile virus. The report estimates that Lyme disease in children will increase by 79% to 241% per year.

3. Homelessness

Anywhere between 1 and 2 million children could lose their homes temporarily or permanently due to coastal flooding alone. Experiencing homelessness, even for a short period of time, can impact a child’s development and result in “significantly higher rates of immediate and long-term emotional, behavioral, and health problems,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services. ,

4. Learning problems and lower grades

Extreme heat affects how well children learn. Increased temperatures could cause students to do 4% to 7% worse academically, the report found. And that can affect future revenue, translating into billions in lost revenue each year over graduating classes and the loss of thousands of dollars to individual students.

They can have these climate threats serious consequences for the child’s development, the report says. A child left homeless by flooding or with a chronic disease is more likely to struggle in school, hindering their academic and professional future. And, displacement from home can lead to lifelong trauma.

Dr. Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Boston and interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement to CBS News, to the root cause of climate. stop change — burning fossil fuels — children will always be at high risk of things like severe asthma and allergies.

He said parents can try to keep their children’s allergies at bay by cleaning their clothes, hands and face frequently. This helps clear pollen and should be done especially before bedtime. Bernstein, who is not involved in the EPA study, also suggested that parents find online resources that track environmental hazards such as pollen counts and air quality forecasts.

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