Issue Brief – Climate Change and Respiratory Health

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Download the Issue Brief – Climate Change and Respiratory Health PDF.


As global warming accelerates, climate disruptions pose a serious and increasing threat to people with lung disease.

Executive Summary

The climate change issues that are expected to affect respiratory health include increases in:

  • Extreme weather events, including heat waves, extreme precipitation, and droughts
  • Wildfires and wildfire smoke
  • Particulate matter (soot)
  • Aeroallergens, including pollens, mold and fungus
  • Insect and water borne diseases
  • And higher levels of ground-level ozone (smog).

Caretakers and advocates for individuals with lung disease should familiarize themselves with these issues.

The public health response to climate change cannot merely be one of adaptation; the medical and public health communities need to be an active voice in broader climate policy discussions.

This paper serves as a brief primer on how climate change will affect lung health, with a focus on Illinois, and the policies aimed at mitigating further climate disruption.

Date of Publication: May 2016


For more information about climate change and respiratory health, contact Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Policy, via email at or by phone at (312) 628-0245.