Report Links EPA Climate Change, Children’s Health and Well-Being in TN
Monday, May 15, 2023
In Tennessee 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 effects in childhood can have lifelong consequences for learning, physical health, 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 which looks at five specific climate stressors and how they may affect children's health. She pointed out 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 noted. "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."
The report looked at projected future income loss based on extreme heat, which Bechard emphasized affects certain geographic areas and populations harder than others. She added children of color and low-income communities are 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, drawing attention to the report's findings on 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 illnesses -- are the other climate-related environmental effects listed in the report.
Bechard said it's important for Tennessee parents to know there are things they can do to mitigate or lessen the impact of climate change on their children. The report suggested parents be aware of signs of heat-related illness for kids and check for ticks, as they try to keep their kids healthy and safe.
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