From Asthma and Tick Bites to Dengue Fever, Nurses Tackle Health Impacts of Climate Change

From Asthma and Tick Bites to Dengue Fever, Nurses Tackle Health Impacts of Climate Change

May 30, 20191 min read

According to statistics compiled by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in more than 650,000 years. In addition, 18 of the 19 warmest years ever have occurred since 2001, according to NASA. The World Health Organization reports that between 2030 and 2050 climate change is expected to cause 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.


“Many people don’t realize how much climate change can affect their health,” says Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, MPH, MSN, RN, director of the Center for Global and Public Health at Villanova’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing. “We see increases in ground level ozone from the changes in our climate here in the United States and in Europe. And we see the impact of climate change on our patients every day.”


Earlier this year, Dr. McDermott-Levy spent several months in Finland collecting nurses’ observations on the impact of climate change. “In Finland extreme cold causes deaths, but increasing heat waves have become a health risk, too. This is especially a risk for the chronically ill and the elderly. And nurses will need to consider heat-related issues when they discharge elderly patients from the hospital to their homes.”


In addition to health issues related to climate change, the increasing extreme weather events that bring on flooding and wildfires also disrupt the health care delivery supply chainmaking much needed medications, medical supplies, and access to health care providers a greater challenge in delivering care.

Connect with:
  • Ruth  McDermott-Levy, PhD
    Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD Professor; Co-Director, Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment | M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing

    Dr. McDermott-Levy, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN is an expert in environmental health, global health, and public health nursing

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