Two reports warn Los Angeles County residents of how climate change can affect health
Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), 2014-08-19
Aug. 19 --Respiratory illnesses, water quality, and mosquito- and rodent-related diseases will worsen across Los Angeles County in the next few decades because of climate change, according to two reports released Monday by public health officials.
"Climate change is arguably the biggest health threat of this century," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding , director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health .
"We are already experiencing one of the worst droughts in history, and it is expected that conditions will worsen over time," he said. "We have to take action now in order to lessen the effects of climate change that we will experience here in Los Angeles County ."
The two reports, part of the county's Climate and Health Series, outlines various changes as a result of temperatures rising up to 5 degrees across the region by 2050, according to researchers at UCLA.
Those changes include an increase in heat-related deaths and illnesses, more air pollution, bad water quality as resources shrink, and more insect-related diseases. California's drought has produced more West Nile virus-infected mosquitos so far this year than last year, for example, because the insects and birds are in closer proximity when water resources are fewer, vector officials have said.
Some places, such as Sylmar and Woodland Hills , for example, may see up to 25 straight days of 95 degree or hotter temperatures.
In addition, climate scientists have predicted that the sea level will rise along the California coast five to 24 inches.
Both reports were issued so that county residents and various agencies can take action to reduce climate change.
"Responding to this threat requires action on the part of individuals, community groups and local government," Angelo Bellomo , director of the environmental health division at the county Department of Public Health , said in a statement. "Fortunately, there are practical steps that people can take now to improve their health in the short term, and help protect future generations in the long term."
Health experts recommend residents walk and bike more, use less energy at home, and buy local produce.
They also hope other county agencies such as the parks and public works will develop action plans to help reduce climate change, like planting more trees at parks, expanding the width of sidewalks so that more people can walk, and developing a groundwater banking system.
Both reports can be found at on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's website: www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/eh/ .
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