Impact of climate change on non-communicable diseases due to increased ambient air pollution
Background: The impacts of air pollutants on health range from short-term health impairments to hospital admissions and deaths. Climate change is leading to an increase in air pollution. Methods: This article addresses, based on selected literature, the relationship between climate change and air pollutants, the health effects of air pollutants and their modification by air temperature, with a focus on Germany. Results: Poor air quality increases the risk of many diseases. Climate change is causing, among other things, more periods of extreme heat with simultaneously increased concentrations of air pollutants. The interactions between air temperature and air pollutants, as well as their combined effects on human health, have not yet been sufficiently studied. Limit, target, and guideline values are of particular importance for health protection. Conclusions: Measures to reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gases must be more strictly implemented. An essential step towards improving air quality is setting stricter air quality limit values in Europe. Prevention and adaptation measures should be accelerated in Germany, as they contribute to climate-resilient and sustainable healthcare systems. This is part of a series of articles that constitute the German Status Report on Climate Change and Health 2023.
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