The Impacts of Climate Change on Children

by Ethan Kurz

When thinking about climate change, usually children do not come to mind. However, according to Rema Hanna and Paulina Oliva (2016), children in developing countries are an important aspect to remember when discussing climate change. Climate change is more dangerous to children in developing countries than in developed countries because of the developing countries’ limited social safety nets, extreme poverty, poor or no health care systems, and weak governments unable to help the poorest of the poor adapt to climate change. Children in developing countries already start off at a disadvantage, and climate change just increases the difficulty in raising a healthy and thriving child. Most of the population in developing countries relies on agriculture for income. With climate change and the resulting new extreme weather patterns, agriculture becomes even less reliable as an income source. A drought could cut off the chances of a child getting medical attention because the family cannot afford it. Children in developing countries also face greater risks of interaction with air or water pollutants. Because of the lack of a strong central government or regulation, children in developing countries have fewer things protecting them from airborne and waterborne contaminants. They also face threats from more parasitic diseases, plagues, and anything that can be contributed to changes in weather pattern or climate change. Continue reading

Drought Impacts on Children’s Respiratory Health in the Brazilian Amazon

by Allison Hu

Drought conditions in Amazonia are associated with increased fire incidence, enhancing aerosol emissions with degradation in air quality. On average, the Brazilian Amazon experiences extreme flood or drought once every ten years (Smith et al. 2014). However, in 2005 and 2010, only a five-year period, two mega droughts have occurred in the Amazon. Although the 2005 drought was the first in 100 years, the second drought occurred only five years later in 2010. Environmental impacts of drought include tree mortality from water deficits and social impacts include lack of food, lack of medical supplies, isolation of communities, and even health problems. Health issues arise because during droughts, wind erosion in deforested areas causes soil particles and microbes to be blow into the air, creating and exacerbating respiratory problems and triggering allergies. Furthermore, droughts have a positive correlation with fire incidences – in Amazonia, droughts can lead to over 30% increase in fire occurrence. This too leads to more hazardous health issues as smoke from fires tends to carry fine Particulate Matter particles (PM2.5), that when inhaled, may reach deep into the lungs, causing irritation of the throat, lungs, and eyes. The primary location for fires within the Amazon is centered around the southern and eastern periphery where 85% of fires occur, emitting as much as 300-600 mg/m3 of PM10 per 24 hours and up to 400 mg/ m3 of PM2.5 per 24 hours during the dry season (Smith et al.). Measurements carried out in southern Amazonia demonstrated that exposure to PM2.5 have positive associations with children’s respiratory health. This increase of 10 mg/m3 PM2.5 has shown simultaneous correlation with a 5.6% and 2.9% increase in outpatients in Rio Branco, Acre State, and Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso State, respectively. Continue reading