Chemical Exposure and Health

Climate Implications – Chemical Exposure and Health

Climate change may increase our exposure to chemicals. More frequent and intense storms may increase the likelihood of flooding, causing chemicals held in underground storage tanks, landfills and storm debris to leak or spread to previously unsoiled areas. Precipitation changes may also affect runoff of industrial or agricultural chemicals or chemical wastes into surface waters. Hotter temperatures may increase evaporation of volatile chemicals into the air. Additionally, chemical use patterns, such as pesticide applications, may change in response to climate change.

People who are exposed to these chemicals may experience adverse health effects, affecting the following:

  • Respiratory system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Renal system
  • Nervous system
  • Immune system
  • Reproductive system
  • Skin
  • Hepatic system

Children are more susceptible to chemical exposure because they eat, breathe, and drink more relative to their body mass than adults do. Adults with compromised immune systems and pre-existing health conditions may also be more vulnerable to chemical exposures.