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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 22 (2015), Issue 1, Pages 52-54
Focused Review

Climate Change and the New Normal for Cardiorespiratory Disease

Tim K Takaro1 and Sarah B Henderson2,3

1Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
2Environmental Health Services, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
3School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Copyright © 2015 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Climate change is already affecting the cardiorespiratory health of populations around the world, and these impacts are expected to increase. The present overview serves as a primer for respirologists who are concerned about how these profound environmental changes may affect their patients. The authors consider recent peer-reviewed literature with a focus on climate interactions with air pollution. They do not discuss in detail cardiorespiratory health effects for which the potential link to climate change is poorly understood. For example, pneumonia and influenza, which affect >500 million people per year, are not addressed, although clear seasonal variation suggests climate-related effects. Additionally, large global health impacts in low-resource countries, including migration precipitated by environmental change, are omitted. The major cardiorespiratory health impacts addressed are due to heat, air pollution and wildfires, shifts in allergens and infectious diseases along with respiratory impacts from flooding. Personal and societal choices about carbon use and fossil energy infrastructure should be informed by their impacts on health, and respirologists can play an important role in this discussion.