Monday, 23 January 2012
The Impact of Climate Change on Air Quality and Respiratory Disease: Maryland/DC Metropolitan Area
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Ground level ozone, or tropospheric ozone, forms smog and becomes directly harmful to humans by exacerbating respiratory conditions, primarily asthma (Knowlton et al. 2004). As climate change progresses, increased ozone concentrations emerge as a major public health concern (Gardiner et al. 2011). Increasing ground level ozone concentrations have been directly correlated with rising temperatures (Patz et al. 2005). The projected increase in ozone concentration caused by climate induced temperature change is 1-2 ppb in 2020 and 2-7 ppb in 2050, with associated temperature increases of 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit and 2-5.5 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively (UCS, 2011). Those with existing respiratory conditions, children and the elderly, and those who spend a significant amount of time outdoors are the most sensitive to ground level ozone pollution (Schlink et al. 2006). In Maryland, there would be approximately 68,894 occurrences of acute respiratory symptoms associated with a 2 ppb climate penalty in 2020, and the total costs for health impacts associated with this would be approximately $133,398,027 (UCS, 2011). In their 2011 “State of the Air” report, the American Lung Association rated the Washington/Baltimore/Northern Virginia region as one of the 25 most ozone polluted regions nationwide (ALA, 2011). We examine asthma hospital admissions data for the Maryland/DC metropolitan region between 2005 and 2010 and identify possible correlations with the reported ozone measurements provided by the EPA (CASTNET). We examine trends between the archived temperatures from NCEP reanalysis data, the EPA ozone data, and reported asthma cases. We utilize these trends to investigate the future impact of changes in ozone concentration based on the IPCC AR4 and SRES emissions scenarios and attempt to quantify the financial burden of its implications. Visualizations from this data can serve as important educational and planning tools for decision makers in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia regions.