Climate Change and Respiratory Health

Current Evidence and Knowledge Gaps

Tim K Takaro; Kim Knowlton; John R Balmes


Expert Rev Resp Med. 2013;7(4):349-361. 

In This Article


We conducted an expert opinion review of some of the recent literature, especially papers published in peer-reviewed academic journals within the last five years, on topics relevant to climate change and respiratory health including those of the UN sponsored International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We searched the PubMed biomedical database using the terms "climate change and respiratory health" and selected the most highly-relevant papers to review. We also reviewed recent research on climate-health relevant modeling results from non-biomedical journals that frequently publish on climate change's effects on air pollution; these include, for example, Atmospheric Environment, Journal of Geophysical Research, and Climatic Change among others. Journals publishing papers that describe human health effects associated with climate-atmospheric chemistry modeling include Environmental Health Perspectives, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and others, as well as federal and state environmental and health agency regulatory documents.

We summarized some of the latest research findings on how climate change can affect respiratory disease prevalence, mostly from studies in the USA, but with some recent work from elsewhere in North America, Europe, and Asia included. Given the evidence, that the environmental health effects of climate change are underway and projected to increase in future, one can expect the body of scientific literature on climate change and respiratory health to grow rapidly.