Q: How are children affected by climate change?
A: Children are uniquely vulnerable to changes in the environment, specifically to extreme changes such as heat waves and air pollution that are worsened by climate change. Since their bodies and metabolism are still developing, children are unable to regulate their temperature well. Compared to adults, children are exposed to more pollutants in air, food and water. At the same time, they have a greater challenge in clearing inhaled or ingested pollutants. Kids just being kids, such as spending more time outdoors, and dependence on adult caregivers also place them at much higher risk of climate-related health burdens than adults.

Specifically, children may suffer from impaired lung development, increased asthma symptoms, worsening allergies and malnourishment as a result of climate change. Post-traumatic stress, physical injury, disruptions in education and loss of a stable home environment are additional ways that children can be negatively affected by natural disasters.

Q: What skin conditions are made worse by climate change?
A: A variety of skin diseases appear to be worsened by climate change. This includes inflammatory disorders such as eczema (atopic dermatitis) and pemphigus, an autoimmune blistering disorder. While the effects of UV exposure, humidity and temperature on eczema are not clear, air pollution is known to cause eczema flares.

Infectious diseases that affect the skin are also on the rise because of global warming. Specifically, an increase in Lyme disease is thought to be related to warmer environments that are more favorable to tick survival, as well as a greater availability of hosts like deer and mice.

As a result of warmer temperatures, mosquito-borne viral illnesses such as dengue, Zika and Chikungunya have been identified in parts of the south and southwest United States and are expected to increase with time.

Finally, elevated temperature and UV light exposure, as well as damage to the ozone layer, are thought to put people at increased risk for various skin cancers.

Read the full interview with Dr. Markus Boos about climate change and children's health by Lyra Fontaine at On the Pulse.