Climate change poses a risk to people with asthma

healthcareI was pleased to see your coverage of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision to join in a coalition along with six other states and top law enforcement officials to demonstrate Virginia’s leadership in addressing climate change.

The Virginia Asthma Coalition, whose mission is to reduce the morbidity and mortality due to asthma, applauds A.G. Herring for taking action on climate change. The reason for this is simple:climate change poses a health risk for those with asthma.

Longer allergy seasons, increased risk of dangerous levels of air pollution, extreme weather, and insect-borne illnesses are just some of the consequences of unchecked climate change. These consequences place those with asthma, and other vulnerable populations, at increased risk of harm. This is why we see the Clean Power Plan, a clean air safeguard the AG has also supported, as critical to curbing climate change and protecting the health of Virginians.

According to EPA’s estimates the Clean Power Plan, once fully implemented nationwide, will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths and up to 90,000 asthma attacks annually.

Some of those prevented asthma attacks will be here in Virginia. In 2013 there were 8,646 Virginians hospitalized due to complications associated with asthma, which cost families an average of $18,853 per hospital visit according to the Virginia Department of Health. It’s in Virginia’s best interest to continue to advocate for a strong state implementation plan so that we can take preventive steps to protecting those with asthma.

By supporting the Clean Power Plan and the fight against climate change A.G. Herring is doing his part to protect public health in a concrete way.

Stuart Tousman, PhD, is the chair of the Virginia Asthma Coalition.