Question of the Day: Are You Seeing the Effects of Climate Change in Patients?


“With changes in temperature, we are seeing increases in exacerbations in patients with asthma and COPD. Rain storms can produce higher pollen counts, and that can make asthma worse. Heat waves can affect COPD patients. It is not heat by itself, but weather changes, flooding, rain storms, etc.”

Scott Harris, MD
Boston, Massachusetts


“I take care of children with asthma, and we want to encourage kids to play and exercise. Unfortunately, I have to pause in making that recommendation—particularly in the summer, when the pollen counts are higher—to consider if it is safe for me to do that as much as I want. I have kids who are so highly sensitized to allergens or ozone that I have not been able to clear them to participate in sports, which is a huge impact on their quality of life.”

Kristie Ross, MD
Cleveland, Ohio

“In Canada, there are more forest fires, and when that is happening, there are more emergency visits for people with respiratory conditions and more visits for people with heart disease. So, yes, there are changes in health.”

Carmelita Biagtan, MD, MPH
Burnaby, BC, Canada


“Increased ozone levels and particulate matter levels have a negative effect on our asthmatics. That is one thing I am concerned about if our pollution levels will increase, if their health will suffer. During ozone action days, we see patients suffering during the heat in summer.”

Daniel Croft, MD, MPH
Rochester, New York


“I can bring that down to my research, where I am looking at specific air pollutants that are tied to decreases in patients’ respiratory health. We have more emergency department visits for pollutants.”

Jessica Castner, PhD, RN
Grand Island, New York


“I take care of children with asthma, and exacerbations are definitely higher during times when a patient’s exposures to the elements are higher. It is definitely something to pay attention to.”

Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, MD, MS
New York, New York


 “I am seeing the effects of climate change in my patients. I am an asthma physician. There are so many changes in the way pollens are growing and the day-to-day adjustments in temperature that are so unpredictable in the extreme weather events. Patients are struggling.”

Sumita Khatri, MD, MS
Cleveland, Ohio


“We see effects in terms of heat stress in urban areas, downtown areas where we have more heat than in peripheral areas. We see the effects, and so we are investigating two adaptation strategies to deal with it.”

Christian Witt, PhD, MD
Berlin, Germany

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