Report: EPA Climate Change and Children’s Health and Well-Being in Arkansas
Thursday, May 11, 2023
In Arkansas and across the country, children's growing and developing bodies are uniquely vulnerable to climate change, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The report states climate change-related impacts in childhood can have lifelong consequences affecting learning, physical health and housing security, and other complications.
Elizabeth Bechard, senior policy analyst for the group Moms Clean Air Force, said the report is a call to action, focusing on five specific climate stressors and how they may affect children's health.
She noted one of the stressors is the effect of extreme heat on children.
"There's a specific analysis in the report on how extreme heat may affect children's ability to learn in schools," Bechard pointed out. "When it's hot, and especially when there's a lack of air conditioning, it can be hard for children to learn, and they actually don't learn as well don't do as well on tests."
Bechard added the report looked at projected future income loss based on extreme heat, which she noted affects certain geographic areas and populations harder than others. She emphasized children of color and low-income communities are also affected due to having less access to air-conditioned spaces.
Bechard stressed Moms Clean Air Force works to protect children from air pollution and climate change. The report examined how climate change is making air quality worse in a number of ways from ozone, dust, drought conditions and wildfires to particle pollution in the air.
"That affects kids' respiratory health, that contributes to more cases of asthma, more emergency department visits with asthma, and even adverse birth outcomes," Bechard outlined.
Changing seasons, flooding, and different types of infectious diseases -- especially tick-borne illness -- are other climate-related environmental factors listed in the report which affect children.
Bechard stressed it is important for parents to know there are things they can do to mitigate or lessen the effects of climate change on their children.
The report suggested parents be aware of signs of heat-related illness, checks for ticks, to help keep their children healthy and safe.
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