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February 27, 2008

Physicians and the Environment

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.

JAMA. 2008;299(8):956-958. doi:10.1001/jama.299.8.956

The medical profession has responded to adverse situations of global reach, such as epidemic diseases and natural disasters. As the world's scientists, governments, and businesses now confront the state of the environment, physicians also must be prepared to respond.

The environment is today's most pressing global issue. Environmental conditions contribute to the presence or intensity of many medical conditions, as with temperature-related morbidity and mortality, health effects of extreme weather events (eg, storms, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and precipitation extremes) and their sequelae (eg, oceanic algae blooms), ecological change (eg, the potency of certain harmful plants), starvation, allergies, pollution-related health effects, water- and food-borne diseases, and vector- and rodent-borne diseases.1,2