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Heatwaves may increase UK death rate by 540%

Written on:September 11, 2023
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Climatic change can also extend hay fever season

Heat-related deaths may increase in the UK by 540% because of climatic changes, predict health experts from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

According to the HPA report showing the latest climate change projections for the UK, the average temperature is expected to increase between 2ºC to 5ºC.

Currently 2,000 people die every year because of heat waves but as weather will become more extreme the death figure is expected to rise up to 11,000 by 2080. Heat waves can increase the number of premature deaths from 70% in the 2020s to up to 540% over the next 70 years. Older people will be major victims of this climatic change.

Increasing temperatures may also cause migration of mosquitoes carrying viruses of tropical diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya to the UK. The warmer climate will also lead to an early start and late end of pollen season which will affect people with hay fever, increasing their span of illness.

According to Dr David Heymann, the chairman for the Health Protection Agency, “There is no doubt that climate change poses a wide range of challenges to public health in the UK. From increased risks of heatwaves through to potentially greater exposure to air pollution, indoors and outdoors, and potential changes to established pollen seasons, there are many issues, all of which need further research and attention if we are to adapt to or mitigate the effects.”

Sir Andy Haines, chief of climate change at HPA also commented on the research saying climate change will have many different effects on health and it is advisable to anticipate and prepare for it. However, he also added it is not all bad news as rising temperatures may bring some health benefits too such as reducing air pollution and increased physical activity.

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