skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Global atmospheric change and research needs in environmental health sciences

Abstract

On November 6-7, 1989, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) held a conference on Global Atmospheric Change and Human Health. As a result, and in the months since this conference, many important areas of research have been identified with regard to the impacts of climatic changes on human health. To develop comprehensive research programs that address important human health issues related to global warming, it is necessary to begin by recognizing that some of the health effects will be direct such as those due to temperature changes, and others will be indirect consequences of environmental alterations resulting in crop loss, changing disease vectors, population migration, etc. It should also be recognized that the conditions leading to global warming have importance to human health and the environment other than through increasing concentrations of CO[sub 2] in the atmosphere, rising surface temperatures, and rising sea levels. Much of the increase in CO[sub 2] in the atmosphere is due to the increased combustion of fossil fuels for transportation and electric power production. Over the next 30 years, the demand for electrical power is expected to grow at a rate of 2 to 4% per year in the United States alone, andmore » even faster growth is likely for developing countries. Much of this energy will be derived from the combustion of fossil fuels, including coal, which result in pollutant emissions to the air such as metals, radioactivity, SO[sub x], NO[sub x], and particles. Therefore, with increasing concentrations of CO[sub 2] there will not only be the effects of global warming on health, but also increasing concentrations of many serious air pollutants in urban areas, including the precursors of acid rain and acid deposition over large regional areas.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. (Univ. of Medicine and Dentistry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ (United States))
  2. (Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR (United States))
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
6788363
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 6788363
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Health Perspectives; (United States); Journal Volume: 96
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
63 RADIATION, THERMAL, AND OTHER ENVIRON. POLLUTANT EFFECTS ON LIVING ORGS. AND BIOL. MAT.; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; CLIMATIC CHANGE; ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS; HEALTH HAZARDS; RECOMMENDATIONS; RESEARCH PROGRAMS; SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS; HAZARDS; INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS 560300* -- Chemicals Metabolism & Toxicology; 560400 -- Other Environmental Pollutant Effects; 540120 -- Environment, Atmospheric-- Chemicals Monitoring & Transport-- (1990-)

Citation Formats

Goldstein, B.D., and Reed, D.J.. Global atmospheric change and research needs in environmental health sciences. United States: N. p., 1991. Web. doi:10.1289/ehp.9196193.
Goldstein, B.D., & Reed, D.J.. Global atmospheric change and research needs in environmental health sciences. United States. doi:10.1289/ehp.9196193.
Goldstein, B.D., and Reed, D.J.. Sun . "Global atmospheric change and research needs in environmental health sciences". United States. doi:10.1289/ehp.9196193.
@article{osti_6788363,
title = {Global atmospheric change and research needs in environmental health sciences},
author = {Goldstein, B.D. and Reed, D.J.},
abstractNote = {On November 6-7, 1989, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) held a conference on Global Atmospheric Change and Human Health. As a result, and in the months since this conference, many important areas of research have been identified with regard to the impacts of climatic changes on human health. To develop comprehensive research programs that address important human health issues related to global warming, it is necessary to begin by recognizing that some of the health effects will be direct such as those due to temperature changes, and others will be indirect consequences of environmental alterations resulting in crop loss, changing disease vectors, population migration, etc. It should also be recognized that the conditions leading to global warming have importance to human health and the environment other than through increasing concentrations of CO[sub 2] in the atmosphere, rising surface temperatures, and rising sea levels. Much of the increase in CO[sub 2] in the atmosphere is due to the increased combustion of fossil fuels for transportation and electric power production. Over the next 30 years, the demand for electrical power is expected to grow at a rate of 2 to 4% per year in the United States alone, and even faster growth is likely for developing countries. Much of this energy will be derived from the combustion of fossil fuels, including coal, which result in pollutant emissions to the air such as metals, radioactivity, SO[sub x], NO[sub x], and particles. Therefore, with increasing concentrations of CO[sub 2] there will not only be the effects of global warming on health, but also increasing concentrations of many serious air pollutants in urban areas, including the precursors of acid rain and acid deposition over large regional areas.},
doi = {10.1289/ehp.9196193},
journal = {Environmental Health Perspectives; (United States)},
number = ,
volume = 96,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Dec 01 00:00:00 EST 1991},
month = {Sun Dec 01 00:00:00 EST 1991}
}
  • Inhalation toxicology experiments in whole animals have demonstrated a remarkable lack of toxicity of sulfuric acid in the form of respirable aerosols, especially in rats and nonhuman primates. Thus, much of the current experimental emphasis has shifted to the evaluation of the potential health effects of acid aerosols as components of mixtures. Rats have been concurrently exposed to mixtures of ozone or nitrogen dioxide with respirable-sized aerosols of sulfuric acid, ammonium sulfate, or sodium chloride, or to each pollutant individually. Their response to such exposures have been evaluated by various quantitative biochemical analysis of lung tissue or wash fluids ([openmore » quotes]lavage fluid[close quotes]) or by quantitative morphological methods ([open quotes]morphometry[close quotes]). Such studies have mainly been performed in the acute time frame due to the inherent limitations of the most sensitive assays available and have generally involved exposures for 1 to 9 days, depending on the assays used. Good correlation were found between the most sensitive biochemical indicators of lung damage (protein content of lung lavage fluid or whole lung tissue and lung collagen synthesis rate) and the exposure concentration of oxidant gas present alone or in mixtures with acidic aerosols showing interactive effects. Synergistic interaction between ozone and sulfuric acid aerosol was demonstrated to occur at environmentally relevant concentrations of both pollutants by several of the analytical methods used in this study. Such interactions were demonstrated at concentrations of ozone as low as 0.12 ppm and of sulfuric acid aerosol at concentrations as low as 5 to 20 [mu]g/m[sup 3]. The acidity of the aerosol is a necessary (and apparently a sufficient) condition for such a synergistic interaction between an oxidant gas and respirable aerosol to occur. 51 refs., 5 tabs.« less
  • On November 6-7, 1989, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) held a Conference on Global Atmospheric Change and Human Health. Since this conference, presented papers have been transformed and revised as articles that address several potential impacts on human health of global warming. Coming when it did, this was a very important conference. At the present time, there is still much uncertainty about whether or not global warming is occurring and, if it is, what effect it will have no human health. All the participants in this conference recognized this uncertainty and addressed potential impacts on human healthmore » if surface temperatures continue to rise and greater amounts of shorter wavelength ultraviolet (UV) radiation continue to reach the earth's surface as a result of depletion of the ozone layer. Because global warming and ozone depletion will occur over many decades, adverse impacts on human health and the environment may not be reversible. In short, we are in the midst of a huge geophysical experiment with global climate, and we will not know what the outcome will be for many years.« less
  • This commentary discusses the role the scientists who study environmental mutagens have in evaluating the health effects of climate change. The author feels that the possibility that mutagens secondary to climatic changes could affect human health directly (somatic mutation/cancer) as well as indirectly (mutagenesis of pathogens and their vectors) is intriguing, and that scientists in the area are well equipped to play a pivital role.
  • The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) supports the precept that anthropogenic sources, specifically greenhouse gases, are responsible for a significant portion of the measured change in global climate. Further, NEHA supports the concept of an association between global warming and an increased risk to public health. Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere will benefit human health. This position paper reviews current information on the status of global climate change with particular emphasis on the implications for environmental and public health. It is intended to be used as a basis from which environmental and public health practitionersmore » and colleagues in related fields can initiate discussions with policy makers at all levels -- local, state, national, and worldwide.« less
  • The US Global Research Plan and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme were created to assess the effects of global climate change but have not been able to devote much attention to the consequences climate change will have on human health and welfare. Although researchers and policy makers recognize that climate change will have complex effects on resources, in general, the social and medical sciences have not received appropriate international attention under the banner of global change. To address this imbalance, the public health research community needs to launch a international coordinated effort so that the social and medical sciences are asmore » fully represented as other scientific disciplines. This document discusses the information needs, research priorities and strategic considerations of the global change and its impact on human health.« less