Diseases that affect brain function are increasing in the United States, including learning disabilities in children, while Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease are occurring earlier in adults. Biotoxin, pesticide, herbicide, and heavy metal exposure are all linked to neurological diseases and disorders, as are other factors like aging and genetics. Climate change could impact neurological conditions by increasing exposure to hazardous substances in our air, water, and food. Climate change may also impact neurological conditions by increasing malnutrition and stress.
Climate change is increasing the frequency, intensity, and duration of harmful algal blooms that produce neurotoxins. Human exposure occurs when people ingest contaminated marine fish, shellfish, or freshwater fish. Sometimes drinking water can contain algal toxins as well.
Extreme weather events and changes in agricultural practices (for example, increasing the use of pesticides) in responses to climate change are expected to increase exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides. Fetal and early-life exposure to these substances can be especially harmful.
Losses and disruptions from extreme weather can cause stress and even post-traumatic stress disorder, impairing neurological function.
Risk factors vary. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable to low levels of exposure.
Next, learn about Vector-borne Diseases and Climate Change.
Or, learn about climate change as a health opportunity.
Some of the content found on this page is summarized from the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States“, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ “A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change“, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “When Every Drop Counts” to briefly describe some of the possible health outcomes that are most relevant to Blackfeet Country. This page does not include all possible health impacts and outcomes, nor does it include all possible risks and responses.