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Climate change is hurting our health

Chicago ranks third on a list of top 50 cities in the nation with the largest number of the blood-sucking bugs, according to Orkin. With a little preparation, you can avoid being bitten by mosquitoes this year.

Thank you for the article (“Hotter, wetter, more bugs? Researcher finds Maryland's climate is becoming more like Mississippi's,” Apr. 2) focused on recent climate science and projected changes to our environment and daily lives. The researchers are using compelling social math to help people understand the very real impacts of climate change now and in the near future.

But I can’t help notice one key element is missing: climate impacts to our health. With the projected increase in mosquitoes mentioned in the article, it is important to note the increased risk of diseases – like Zika and chikungunya – that mosquitoes carry. And with increased heat comes increased risks of heat stroke and respiratory illness, especially among vulnerable populations like communities of color, children, the elderly, and pregnant women. Our research shows that over half of Americans report experiencing health impacts from climate change, and that the majority (66 percent) believe that if the United States took steps to prevent climate change, it would improve their health.

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We need to help make clear the climate impacts to our personal health and our families' well-being and mental health at every opportunity. When more health professionals take leadership on climate change, we’ll get closer to solutions and health improvements.

Rebecca Rehr

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The writer is a native of Baltimore and is the senior program manager for Climate for Health, a program of Washington, D.C.-based ecoAmerica.

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