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Nurses Commit to Protecting Climate, Environment

Raising awareness of climate change is part of a nurse's job, according to a new report. (MGDBoston/morguefile)
Raising awareness of climate change is part of a nurse's job, according to a new report. (MGDBoston/morguefile)
January 17, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – When a nurse expresses concern, most people take note, and right now nurses are very concerned about how climate change is impacting people in Florida and nationwide. A new report from the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments looks at the role nurses can play in combatting the impacts of climate change, which in Florida include sea-level rise, increased floods and hurricanes, and problems with mosquito populations.

Report co-author Katie Huffling, director of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, says nurses take great pride in the trusted position they have in communities across Florida and the nation.

"We take that very seriously," she said. "Nurses are in every community. We're in every town and city, and part of being a nurse is being able to take science and to break it down into usable pieces of information."

The report urges nurses to reduce their own carbon footprint, help their communities prepare for climate change-related emergencies, and campaign to include education about climate change and its health effects in the university curricula for nursing degrees.

Nurse Diane Downing, BSN, MSN, Ph.D. of Ponte Vedra, has been a public-health advocate, educator and leader for more than a quarter century. She says while the environmental and economic impacts of climate change in Florida are very visible, the health impacts are just as real. She believes speaking out about them is part of a nurse's responsibility.

"It causes respiratory issues, in extreme heat conditions," she said. "Their asthma issues may be exacerbated. People need to be aware that vulnerable populations: children, infants, people over 65, can be more severely affected."

The report came out of a summit held late last year by the Obama administration, called the 2016 White House Summit on Climate Change, Health and Nursing.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL