Fellows in the News

New research shows that the extreme weather and fires of recent years, similar to the flooding that has struck Louisiana and the Midwest, may be making Americans sick in ways researchers are only beginning to understand.

By knocking chemicals loose from soil, homes, industrial-waste sites or other sources, and spreading them into the air, water and ground, disasters like these — often intensified by climate change — appear to be exposing people to an array of physical ailments including respiratory disease and cancer.

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As the dangers become better understood, governments need to do more to contain toxic chemicals during disasters, rather than hoping those chemicals will harmlessly be absorbed into the environment, according to Kimberley Miner, a research assistant professor at the University of Maine who studies climate change and contaminants.

“When I was growing up, they were still saying the solution to pollution is dilution,” Dr. Miner said. “We now know that’s absolutely not true.”

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