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Curr Environ Health Rep. 2016 Mar;3(1):13-22. doi: 10.1007/s40572-016-0081-4.

An Overview of Occupational Risks From Climate Change.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken School of Public Health, George Washington University, 950 New Hampshire Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, 20052, USA.
2
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken School of Public Health, George Washington University, 950 New Hampshire Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, 20052, USA. mperry@gwu.edu.

Abstract

Changes in atmosphere and temperature are affecting multiple environmental indicators from extreme heat events to global air quality. Workers will be uniquely affected by climate change, and the occupational impacts of major shifts in atmospheric and weather conditions need greater attention. Climate change-related exposures most likely to differentially affect workers in the USA and globally include heat, ozone, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, other chemicals, pathogenic microorganisms, vector-borne diseases, violence, and wildfires. Epidemiologic evidence documents a U-, J-, or V-shaped relationship between temperature and mortality. Whereas heat-related morbidity and mortality risks are most evident in agriculture, many other outdoor occupational sectors are also at risk, including construction, transportation, landscaping, firefighting, and other emergency response operations. The toxicity of chemicals change under hyperthermic conditions, particularly for pesticides and ozone. Combined with climate-related changes in chemical transport and distribution, these interactions represent unique health risks specifically to workers. Links between heat and interpersonal conflict including violence require attention because they pose threats to the safety of emergency medicine, peacekeeping and humanitarian relief, and public safety professionals. Recommendations for anticipating how US workers will be most susceptible to climate change include formal monitoring systems for agricultural workers; modeling scenarios focusing on occupational impacts of extreme climate events including floods, wildfires, and chemical spills; and national research agenda setting focusing on control and mitigation of occupational susceptibility to climate change.

KEYWORDS:

Climate change; Heat; Occupational risks; Other chemicals; Ozone; Pathogenic microorganisms; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Vector-borne diseases; Violence and wildfires

PMID:
26842343
DOI:
10.1007/s40572-016-0081-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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