December 16, 2015

Paris accord an important step towards helping people breathe easier

Lung Foundation Australia and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand welcomed the weekend agreement in Paris to take action to curb greenhouse gas emissions as a crucial step for people with lung disease.

Incoming Lung Foundation Australia Chair Professor Christine Jenkins said for the first time almost 200 countries around the world had agreed that to tackle climate change, leading to potential benefits for people with lung conditions.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and working to slow the pace of climate change is an important issue for people with a lung disease, especially those with COPD, asthma and other chronic lung diseases,” Prof Jenkins said.

“Not only is carbon fuel burning and emissions exposure a risk for developing lung disease, climate change represents a major threat to respiratory health1,” she said.

“Global warming may directly promote or aggravate respiratory disease, by increasing the risk of certain respiratory infections and by increasing exposure to atmospheric pollutants and other risk factors for respiratory diseases1.

“For example, one of the impacts of climate change is an increase in the amount of pollen and allergen produced by each plant, mould proliferation and in the concentrations of outdoor ozone and particulate matter at ground level, all of which greatly affect people with lung conditions1.

“By taking action now to reduce fossil fuel emissions, we are taking steps for millions of people at risk of developing lung disease globally, as well as reducing exposures for Australians with lung disease who might suffer because of the impacts of climate change.”

TSANZ President Dr Peter Gibson said the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change found climate-change mitigation through increased energy efficiency would reduce associated impacts on excess winter mortality and the respiratory health of children and infants2.

“The scientists found that climate change poses a health threat, citing lung conditions, heart conditions, diabetes, obesity and stroke as health issues that can be linked with the phenomenon,” Dr Gibson said.

“Among their recommendations to reduce the impact of climate change on lung health in particular is to cut air pollution by phasing out coal and moving to greener energy sources, and by encouraging more people to walk and cycle2.”

References

[1] Gennaro D’Amato, Lorenzo Cecchi, Mariella D’Amato, Isabella Annesi-Maesano, “Climate change and respiratory diseases”, European Respiratory Review, June 2014

[2] Nick Watts, W Neil Adger, et al, “Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health”, the Lancet online, 2015