Washington, D.C., May 8, 2009
— There is a direct connection between climate change and human health, and legislation introduced yesterday will greatly help to better understand and minimize the growing health threats associated with a warming climate, said the American Public Health Association.
The bill — the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act — calls for developing a national strategic action plan for preparing for and responding to the impacts of climate change on health, including providing funding for climate and health research.
“Climate change affects our environment on the most fundamental level,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of the American Public Health Association. “It affects the air we breathe and the food available for us to eat. It affects the availability of drinking water and the spread of diseases that can make us sick. This legislation will help us better prepare for and protect ourselves from one of the greatest threats to human health.”
The measure, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Lois Capps in the wake of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and welfare, would promote coordination among federal agencies to address a number of health-related climate effects, including:
- food, water and vector-borne disease;
- pulmonary and cardiovascular effects, including the impact of temperature extremes, and mental health impacts; and
- the implications for vulnerable communities.
“We are deeply grateful to Rep. Capps for her leadership on this issue,” said Benjamin. “Changes in our climate will profoundly affect public health now into the future.”