E2136. Illuminating the Silent Threat: The Radiologic Manifestations of Climate Change-Related Illnesses
  1. Helen HR Kim; Seattle Children's Hospital; University of Washingon
  2. Amanda Marrero-Gonzalez; University of Puerto Rico
  3. Katherine Frederick-Dyer; Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  4. Beth Zigmund; University of Vermont Medical Center
  5. Kate Hanneman; University of Toronto
  6. Jeffrey Sachs; Wake Forest School of Medicine
  7. Maura Brown; University of British Columbia
Climate change refers to long-term alterations in the Earth's climate system, including temperature, precipitation patterns, and other aspects of weather conditions. Climate change will become the defining narrative of human health with significant acute and long-term health impacts through extreme weather events, air pollution, allergens, novel infectious disease, and violence. Although everyone will be impacted, vulnerable populations within and between countries will be inequitably harmed as climate change exacerbates existing social and environmental determinants of health. As radiologists, the effects of climate change are present in our daily work, even if they go unnoticed. It is imperative that radiologists understand how climate change impacts disease patterns in order to anticipate changes in disease prevalence and geographic distribution predict fluctuations in volume and resource demand, and guide the clinical team towards accurate treatment, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.

Educational Goals / Teaching Points
Climate change disproportionately impacts those who are least able to protect themselves in low-income and disadvantaged communities and countries, including Indigenous peoples, women, children, seniors, those living in poverty, underhoused, those with preexisting medical conditions and with poor access to health care. Illnesses related to climate change can affect individuals across all age groups, from fetuses to the elderly, often involve multiorgan systems, and span a gamut of etiologies from acute trauma to chronic illness. Climate change alters the temporal and geographic distribution pattern of vector ecology. Radiologists should become familiar with vector-borne illnesses anticipated to increase in their regions in order to prepare for these shifting disease burdens. Climate change results in an increased incidence and severity of acute and/or chronic diseases such as kidney injury and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as an increased prevalence of certain cancers.

Key Anatomic/Physiologic Issues and Imaging Findings/Techniques
Direct and indirect impacts of climate change on health are severe, with complex pathways and frequently involve multiorgan systems. For example, particulate matter, specifically PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller), directly traverses the alveoli, enters the bloodstream, and trigger a cascade of atherosclerotic disease processes in every organ system. These processes can lead to significant adverse effects on cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular systems, among others.

Climate change is a healthcare issue that affects individuals from fetuses to the elderly, leading to a myriad of illnesses and often involving multiple organs. These illnesses are frequently in a state of flux, rendering them a constantly moving target. Early detection of climate-related diseases is crucial for patient care, and radiologists play a critical role in accurately identifying their radiological manifestations.