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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Harvard: Children’s Health Especially at Risk from Climate Change

Climate change is predicted to harm children more than adults, according to a new report from The Lancet.

According to the report, if fossil fuel emissions aren’t limited in the years to come, health problems will worsen, caused by increases in global temperatures, air pollution, infectious diseases, and malnutrition. Children will be particularly affected because they absorb more air pollution than adults, partly because of their physiology and because they spend more time outside.

Exposure to fine particulate, or PM2.5 air pollution — the sort caused by burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas and, increasingly, by wildfires related to climate change — has been linked with problems such as low birth weight and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma.

Children are also at risk from climate change-related mental health problems. “You have young kids escaping fires that are going to be, in effect, challenged for life,” said Dr. Gina McCarthy, director of the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “There are mental health issues happening as a result of these climate events and fires and floods that children have never had to face, certainly not to the frequency and intensity that they have to face now.”

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