Interactions of Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Human Health
- 149 Downloads
Purpose of Review
I review literature on the impacts of climate change on air quality and human health, with a focus on articles published from 2013 on ozone and airborne particles. Selected previous literature is discussed where relevant in tracing the origins of our current knowledge.
Climate and weather have strong influences on the spatial and temporal distribution of air pollution concentrations. Emissions of ozone and PM2.5 precursors increase at higher ambient temperatures. The reactions that form ozone occur faster with greater sunlight and higher temperatures. Weather systems influence the movement and dispersion of air pollutants in the atmosphere through the action of winds, vertical mixing, and precipitation, all of which are likely to alter in a changing climate. Recent studies indicate that, holding anthropogenic air pollution emissions constant, ozone concentrations in populated regions will tend to increase in future climate scenarios. For the USA, the climate impact on ozone is most consistently seen in north-central and north-eastern states, with the potential for many thousands of additional ozone-related deaths. The sensitivity of anthropogenic PM2.5 to climate is more variable across studies and regions, owing to the varied nature of PM constituents, as well as to less complete characterization of PM reaction chemistry in available atmospheric models. However, PM emitted by wildland fires is likely to become an increasing health risk in many parts of the world as climate continues to change.
The complex interactions between climate change and air quality imply that future policies to mitigate these twin challenges will benefit from greater coordination. Assessing the health implications of alternative policy approaches towards climate and pollution mitigation will be a critical area of future work.
KeywordsClimate change Air quality Ozone PM2.5 Health impacts
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Patrick L. Kinney declares that he has no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance
- 6.Cohen AJ, Brauer M, Burnett R, Anderson HR, Frostad J, Estep K, et al. Estimates and 25-year trends of the global burden of disease attributable to ambient air pollution: an analysis of data from the global burden of diseases study 2015. Lancet. 2017;389(10082):1907–18. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30505-6.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 7.Post ES, Grambsch A, Weaver C, Morefield P, Huang J, Leung LY, et al. Variation in estimated ozone-related health impacts of climate change due to modeling choices and assumptions. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120(11):1559–64. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104271.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 8.Nakićenović N, Alcamo J, Davis G, de Vries B, Fenhann J, Gaffin S, et al. IPCC special report on emissions scenarios (SRES), working group III, intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2000. p. 595.Google Scholar
- 12.Grell GA, Dudhia J, Stauffer DR. A description of the fifth-generation Penn State/NCAR mesoscale model (MM5). NCAR Technical Note, NCAR/TN-398+STR. Boulder: National Center for Atmospheric Research; 1994. p. 122.Google Scholar
- 13.Byun DW, Ching JKS, Novak J, Young J. In: Gryning SE, Chaumerliac N, editors. Development and implementation of the EPA’s models-3 initial operating version: Community multi-scale air quality (CMAQ) model. New York: Plenum Press Div Plenum Publishing Corp; 1998. p. 357–68.Google Scholar
- 14.Hogrefe C, Lynn B, Civerolo K, Ku J, Rosenthal J, Rosenzweig C, et al. Simulating changes in regional air pollution over the eastern United States due to changes in global and regional climate and emissions. J Geophys Res-Atmos. 2004;109(D22):D22301. https://doi.org/10.1029/2004JD004690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 15.• Fann N, Nolte CG, Dolwick P, Spero TL, Brown AC, Phillips S, et al. The geographic distribution and economic value of climate change-related ozone health impacts in the United States in 2030. J Air Waste Manage Assoc. 2015;65(5):570–80. This paper comprehensive quantifies health and economic impacts of climate change on future ozone in the US. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 16.USGCRP. The impacts of climate change on human health in the United States: a scientific assessment. Washington: DC; 2016.Google Scholar
- 17.• Wilson A, Reich BJ, Nolte CG, Spero TL, Hubbell B, Rappold AG. Climate change impacts on projections of excess mortality at 2030 using spatially varying ozone-temperature risk surfaces. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2017;27(1):118–24. This paper suggests that high temperatures may enhance the health effects of future climate-induced increases in ozone concentrations. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 38.Kelly FJ. Twin problems of climate change and air pollution. Br Med J. 2016;355:2.Google Scholar
- 40.Rao S, Pachauri S, Dentener F, Kinney P, Klimont Z, Riahi K, et al. Better air for better health: forging synergies in policies for energy access, climate change and air pollution. Glob Environ Change Human Policy Dimens. 2013;23(5):1122–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.05.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 42.Schmale J, von Schneidemesser E, Chabay I, Maas A, Lawrence MG. In: Drake JL, Kontar YY, Eichelberger JC, Rupp TS, Taylor KM, editors. Building interfaces that work: a multi-stakeholder approach to air pollution and climate change mitigation. Dordrecht: Springer; 2016. p. 65–76.Google Scholar