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How Does Climate Change Affect the Healthcare Industry?

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The US Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the establishment of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE). Noting that the OCCHE is “the first office of its kind at the national level to address climate change and health equity,” the OCCHE will be tasked with assisting with regulatory efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and criteria air pollution throughout the healthcare sector.

Healthcare systems must rapidly adapt to a world where increasing numbers of individuals fall ill or are injured because of climate-related diseases and extreme weather events. The healthcare industry itself is also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions (producing approximately 10% of total greenhouse gases in the United States), and hospital systems nationwide are working to reduce their carbon footprint and take effort to become resilient against the effects of climate change.

Hospitals are among the most energy-intensive buildings in the United States. Many are working to identify inefficiencies in existing infrastructure and implement climate-friendly solutions. Healthcare systems are taking measures such as replacing fluorescent lightbulbs with more efficient LED bulbs; using software to reduce the energy consumed by medical grade computers; installing energy-efficient air exchange systems; establishing power purchase agreements to […]

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