Human Health

The number of summer days with unhealthy smog levels in Pittsburgh will quadruple by the end of the century unless steps are taken to reduce greenhouse gases, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

How Will Climate Change Affect Our Health?

Heat was the leading weather-related killer in the United States in six of the years from 1993 to 2003.

Heat waves are most dangerous in urban areas such as Pittsburgh because of the large concentration of potentially vulnerable people, including children, the poor and the elderly. With more than 200,000 residents 65 and older in Allegheny County, Pittsburgh has one of the oldest populations in America.

That’s why experts project a 50-percent rise in the number of heat-related deaths in Pittsburgh in addition to an increase in symptoms of respiratory diseases such as asthma, and the accelerated spread of disease through increasing populations of pests and insects.

Efforts to reduce greenhouse gases can also reduce heat. For example, in addition to reducing pollution and producing oxygen, widespread planting of trees and vegetation in a city can decrease local surface and air temperatures.