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American Society of Nephrology Calls on Professionals to Take Action Against Climate Change

The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is calling on kidney health professionals to take action to address the impact of climate change on the 850 million people-;including more than 37 million Americans-;living with kidney diseases across the world who are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Kidney health professionals are experts in supporting the human body's ability to maintain homeostasis. Climate change threatens the homeostasis of global ecological systems, an imbalance which ultimately shapes kidney health. Climate change threatens to increase the incidence and prevalence of kidney diseases, disrupt access to care, and widen inequity in kidney health, ASN remarks in a statement.

"ASN firmly believes that climate health impacts kidney health," says ASN President Susan Quaggin, MD, FASN. "As ASN unites health care professionals, researchers, and innovators for kidney health, we must pay close attention to the quickly increasing impact climate change is having on people with kidney diseases. It is increasingly important for kidney health professionals to put a voice to this important issue and foster resiliency, research, and innovation on behalf of all people living with kidney diseases." 

The statement calls on kidney health professionals to advocate for public policy to address climate changes as a contributor to kidney health, and to support people with kidney diseases to survive climate change by conducting research, fostering resiliency, and broadening access to therapies. Identifying direct impacts of climate change on kidney health, such as increased heat exposure, dehydration, degrading air quality, as well as secondary effects that arise from disruptions in care caused by the increasing pace of severe weather events, the statement notes that "the confluence of socioeconomic, geographic, and climate change risk factors may increase the incidence of kidney diseases and disrupt access to care."

Further, the statement calls on kidney health professionals to diminish the contribution of kidney care to climate change, drawing attention to the large environmental footprint of existing therapies to manage kidney failure and the health care sector more broadly. In the United Kingdom, in-center dialysis has been shown to double a person's carbon footprint, and if the US health care sector were a country it would rank 13th for global emissions.

The voices of kidney health professionals are critical to bring attention to the growing impact of climate change on kidney health and people with kidney diseases. Kidney health professionals must call for policy and interventions to address climate change.


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