Climate Change Increases Exposure to Cancer-Causing Substances
Climate change is causing extreme heat that increases people’s exposure to carcinogens and delays progress in cancer prevention. Rising temperatures have increased the number of wildfires and other natural disasters, releasing carcinogens into the air. Hurricane Harvey, for example, caused a significant amount of flooding in Texas and Louisiana in 2017, overrunning oil refineries and chemical plants. As a result, some neighborhoods in Houston have since experienced higher rates of childhood leukemia due to the increased level of carcinogens in the air.
Extreme heat and other weather events exacerbated by climate change are also responsible for lowering cancer survival rates in a given region, threatening people's access to cancer treatment. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment during a hurricane are 19% more likely to die because of treatment interruptions and facility shutdowns.