Takeaways from a Workshop on Climate and Respiratory Health

Tuesday, November 14 – Last week I was pleased to participate on Thursday as a speaker at the Climate and Respiratory Health Workshop convened by Case Consultants International and sponsored by  sponsors Clean Air Carolina, Green Built Alliance, and with collaboration from NOAA Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-NC (CICS)and The Collider, a nonprofit innovation center in Asheville, North Carolina, focused on catalyzing market-driven climate solutions.

I was joined in the afternoon session on tools and technology for personalizing public health by Dr. Ed Gardiner of the NOAA Climate Program Office, and Calvin Cupini, the Citizen Science Program Manager for Clean Air Carolina.  We were introduced by Jim Fox, Director, National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center, which hosted our afternoon session in their facility at The Collider.

I wanted to share my takeaways from the day-long workshop.  The climate is changing. The climate impacts patients with respiratory conditions in the form of weather and environmental exposures.  Exposures impact their daily health and wellness.  Exposure awareness as it relates to a patient with asthma is imperative if they’re going to prevent negative health outcomes.  But, we don’t know what we don’t know right now.

The Climate Resilience Toolkit is an excellent starting point to understand the daily impacts of climate on heath.  Specifically, the toolkit outlines how extreme heat has direct impacts on human health, but also how it impacts the climate ecosystem to raise the risk of respiratory incidences.  For example, extreme heat exacerbates poor air quality and increases pollen presence.  Extreme events, such as floods or wildfires, are having increasing impacts on patients with respiratory conditions.  And, air pollution is interacting with pollen and specific weather conditions to create more respiratory distress when patients are outdoors.

When it comes to tracking exposures daily, we’re really operating at a gap.  Air quality and pollen measurement is not granular enough to provide the data at a level that permits vulnerable populations to understand their individual sensitivity to exposures in their immediate environment.  I was pleased to learn of Clean Air Carolina’s AirKeepers program, a focus on citizen science to achieve at least 1 air quality sensor in each of the counties in North Carolina. EPA’s AirNow data for North Carolina is derived from 23 sensors across North Carolina.  As apps emerge to track air quality data for individuals, we must envision a network of networks where the app can draw upon the most granular data available, whether that is based on a sensor that populates EPA’s AirNow data feed, comes from an AirKeeper’s sensor, or whether it’s from wearable sensor that is certainly on the horizon.

Without mechanisms to understand the risk of exposures on a personal level, patients are unprepared and will continue to be at the mercy of the weather and the environment.  We need to empower patients by making them exposure aware and health prepared.

Authored by Eric Klos, CEO, HEALTHeWeather, and innovator of DailyBreath, a service delivered via a mobile app that provides a daily personalized health weather forecast and dynamic flare-up tracking for allergy and asthma sufferers.  DailyBreath is a project in the MedStartr National Crowd Challenge. Please like or follow to support the project.

If you suffer from allergies or asthma, or are a caregiver of one who does, please TEXT ‘DBnow’ to 41411 to download DailyBreath from the Apple iTunes App store.If you are an Android user, sign up here to receive the Android version when it becomes available in the future.