Monday, October 20, 2008

Global Warming Increases Spread of Waterborne Pathogens

Scientists are almost positive that global warming will lead to worldwide increases in the spread of waterborne pathogens, the Washington Post reported today in this article. The Post references scientific studies indicating that global warming will lead to heavier rainfall, resulting in sewage overflows and tainted drinking water, and increased lake and ocean temperatures will allow bacteria, parasites, and algal blooms to multiply. Other problematic results of climate change will be fish and shellfish contamination as well as the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

The article cites a 2007 report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which indicates that global warming will lead to heavier rainfalls. You can find a PDF of the full report on IPCC's website. The Post article also references an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-commissioned study showing a correlation between heavy rainfall and waterborne disease outbreaks. You can read about the study in the article The Association Between Extreme Precipitation and Waterborne Disease Outbreaks in the United States, 1948-1994, which was published by the American Public Health Association. Also take a look at this report on the issue by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you need more information on this topic, check out our guide on water resources, which features links to U.S. and global resources on water supply, treatment, quality, and other relevant topics.

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