Lewis Ziska Contributes to Lancet Report on Climate Change and Health

Report Finds Spread of Illness Particularly Affects Migrant Workers

October 27, 2022

Climate and health expert Lewis Ziska at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health contributed to a new Lancet Report released on Thursday, October 26, 2022, including a U.S. Policy Brief that tracks the impact of climate change on human health. The report highlights the health crises of extreme heat, infectious diseases, air pollution, mental health impacts, and the unequal burdens of climate change. It also provides policy recommendations for ensuring health equity is maximized in climate policy and action. 

Ziska, professor of environmental health sciences wrote the section about Climate Change and the U.S. Food System. In the piece, he writes that climate change and extreme weather events are likely to affect agricultural systems at the national, regional, and local levels, by reducing production and leading to food insecurity. In addition, they impact another fundamental player in U.S. agriculture—migrant workers, who are essential to agricultural productivity and represent approximately 75 percent of all U.S. agricultural workers. Ziska states, “Such workers are essential to food systems, but are also among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts on their health and well-being.”

These workers are especially susceptible to extreme heat and heat-related illnesses, from mild symptoms such as fatigue, vomiting, and dizziness, to life-threatening heat strokes and potential chronic kidney diseases. According to research by Ziska, we are also seeing the effects of increasingly greater chemical exposure among agricultural workers.

Read the full Lancet U.S. Policy Brief.