Air pollution from fossil fuels annually costs Americans an average of $2,500 in additional medical bills. Annual health costs of using fossil fuels and resulting extreme weather events from climate change total more than $800 billion

Air pollution from fossil fuels annually costs Americans an average of $2,500 in additional medical bills and contributes to an estimated 107,000 premature deaths, a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and health professionals concludes. (Grist)

Health care costs from fossil fuel use pass $800B — report

E&E News | Ariel Wittenberg The annual health costs of using fossil fuels and resulting extreme weather events from climate change total more than $800 billion, according to a new analysis. Hospitalizations, lost wages, premature deaths and even prescription medications caused by air pollution, heat waves, hurricanes, floods, pollen seasons and insect-borne illnesses all contribute to those costs, according to the report from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action. Particulate matter pollution alone, they estimate, created $820 billion in health care costs and killed 107,000 people prematurely. Ground-level ozone also comes with a high price tag — $7.9 billion — and led to 795 premature deaths and more than 4,000 respiratory-related hospitalizations in 2002. Natural disasters similarly drive up costs, with wildfire smoke causing 6,200 annual respiratory hospital admissions and 1,700 deaths from short-term exposures in 2010, all of which contributed to an estimated $16 billion in health care costs. “Climate change is an underrecognized public health problem,” said NRDC climate and health scientist Vijay Limaye, who co-authored the study. The report, which evaluated peer-reviewed research into the health care costs of various types of pollution and disasters, is motivated by what Limaye called “gaps” in the way the federal government considers disaster costs. NOAA tracks natural disasters that exceed $1 billion but does not include health care costs in its analysis, for example. That’s in part because estimating health care needs resulting from natural disasters can be complicated. Heat waves, for example, can exacerbate existing cardiovascular and respiratory problems, but hospital intake forms or death certificates often don’t mention the temperature outside when listing a reason for seeking medical care or cause of death.

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