From lung cancer to Lyme disease: State outlines health risks of climate change

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Minnesota's Health Department says changes in the state's climate come with their own set of health risks.

The report issued Monday says rising temperatures and erratic precipitation – including heavier rainfalls – raise the potential for health problems ranging from allergies and Lyme disease to lung cancer and drowning.

Specifically, the Health Department identifies four climate-related hazards and the health risks of each:

  • Air pollution – which brings a higher risk of lung cancer, pulmonary disease, and allergies.
  • Extreme heat - which can lead to heat stroke and worsen existing conditions such as diabetes and kidney ailments.
  • Floods and drought – increasing the risk of drownings and waterborne diseases.
  • Changes to the ecosystem – these can increase diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes, including Lyme disease and West Nile virus.

A look at health effects was part of a series of reports MPR News did on climate change.

Meanwhile, in a Monday article the Star Tribune visits with three University of Minnesota scientists who are tracking trends in Minnesota's climate and weather by reading tree rings. A slab from a red pine that had been growing in (what is now) Voyageurs National Park since 1769 is an example of nature's climatic record.

One of the researchers used the same techniques in California to conclude that the prolonged drought in that state is its worst in 12 centuries.

Click here to learn more about Minnesota's newly released Climate and Health Profile or here to find a PDF of the full 100-page report.

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