The unexpected ways climate change harms your health

Climate change is bad for your health. There’s no question that the impacts of a warming world — harsher heat waves, increased flooding — will put a strain on our nation’s public health. Take one example: studies predict some 11,000 additional heat-related deaths during summers about 15 years from now.

But other health-related climate consequences have proven more difficult to tease out and thus more difficult to quantify. The White House released a scientific report on Monday that draws on research from eight federal agencies to provide the most comprehensive look yet at climate’s health impacts.

“I don’t know that we’ve seen something like this before, where you have a force that has such a multitude of effects,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told reporters when previewing the report. “As far as history is concerned, this is a new type of threat that we’re facing.”

Here are some of the more unexpected consequences of climate change identified in the report:

Americans are at greater risk of eating contaminated food. Higher temperatures and more extreme weather create perfect conditions for dangerous contaminants to make their way into the food supply. For example, researchers found a link between higher ocean temperatures and mercury accumulation in seafood. Warmer weather and flooding also raises the chance for foodborne illnesses like salmonella.

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