Many Maine Doctors See Climate Change Hurting Health
Thursday, October 29, 2020
PORTLAND, Maine -- Many Maine medical professionals are concerned about the impact of climate change on public health, including COVID-19.
More than 4,300 doctors and nurses across the country signed a letter encouraging patients to back political candidates who support clean-energy policies.
Ed Pontius, founding director of Maine FrontLine WarmLine, is one of the Mainers on the letter.
He explained how Mainers were impacted by wildfire smoke last month from California, which is getting worse due to climate change, according to most environmental experts.
"Those fires were sending tremendous amounts of particulates into the air that caused the air above Maine to get hazy," Pontius described. "Those particulates also increase enzymes in the lungs that make us much more susceptible to the COVID virus."
A number of recent studies show a link between high levels of air pollutants and worse outcomes from the coronavirus. Maine currently is experiencing its fastest surge in new coronavirus cases.
Pontius noted while Maine has had low COVID rates, it has the country's worst COVID-19 racial disparity.
According to the latest Maine CDC data, Black or African-American Mainers account for more than 15% of recent COVID cases, even though they're 1% of the population.
Pontius sees climate change, class and racism as interconnected.
"These are folks that have much more likelihood of problems not only with the virus but also, these are folks that have suffered from the worst health impacts of pollution," Pontius stated.
Pontius added low-income neighborhoods often have dirtier air. This increases respiratory diseases, including the number of children with asthma.
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