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Connecticut seeing climate change impact on human health

Karen Rozen.JPG
Kate Rozen
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Kate Rozen, an asthmatic cyclist in Woodbridge, says hotter summers have worsened her asthma, requiring her to drive to work and to increase her medication

This hour on Where We Live, a look at climate change and health. Physicians turned climate activists see worsening asthma, COPD, and seasonal shifts in vector-borne diseases, plus higher ER visits for heat stress.

Hartford and New Haven have the unfortunate distinction of being in the list of Top 20 Asthma Capitals in the country, according to the 2021 report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The American Lung Association puts Fairfield County in its map for the highest ozone in the eastern half of the U.S., in part because of pollution transported from other states.

The Governor’s Council on Climate Change, Science and Technology Working Group in its 2020 report projected that average temperatures in Connecticut could increase by 5º F (2.7º C) by 2050 compared to the 1970-1999 baseline.

Our planet is heading towards a crisis brought on by climate change, but experts say our physical and mental health is also at risk.

A 2020 report by the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health found that between 2007 and 2016, heat stress led to an average 422 emergency department visits and 45 hospitalizations per year.

Connecticut Public Radio’s Nicole Leonard reported that New Haven, Hartford, Litchfield, Tolland, and Windham counties experienced an increase in heavy precipitation, which can and has led to a growth in ticks and mosquitoes, increasing the risk for vector-borne diseases.

Meanwhile, health insurers including Connecticut-headquartered Cigna and Aetna hold $24 billion in investments in fossil fuel.

As the United Nations’ climate summit — COP26 — is in its second week in Scotland with world leaders negotiating how best to limit global warming, what can we do at the state and individual level?

GUESTS:

Kate Rozen: Asthmatic Cyclist, Woodbridge

Dr. David Hill: Member, National Board of Directors, American Lung Association, Director of Clinical Research, Waterbury Pulmonary Associates

Susan A. Masino: Professor of Applied Science at Trinity College, and a Charles Bullard Fellow at Harvard Forest. Past Co-chair, the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, Science and Technology Working Group

Tom Swan: Executive Director, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 

Produced by Sujata Srinivasan with help from intern Abe Levine

Technical producer Cat Pastor

Sujata Srinivasan is a Senior Producer for Where We Live, the flagship news-based, call-in talk show from Connecticut Public Radio, featuring deep dives at the intersection of data-driven narrative and investigative longform journalism.
Lucy is the Executive Producer and Host of WNPR's popular talk show, Where We Live.