Climate change and air pollution are twin global public health challenges of high priority. Sharing linked causes and solutions, both climate change and air pollution are suggested by a growing body of research to inflict negative mental health outcomes through multiple mechanisms. However, there are still gaps in understanding the links between climate change, air pollution and mental health, especially in children and adolescents, who are particularly at-risk. Current findings are summarized and their implications for future research as well as public health policies are discussed.

Key Take Away Points

  • Climate change and air pollution have significantly linked causes and shared solutions, and both inflict negative mental health effects in children and adolescents.
  • Climate change and air pollution can synergize and amplify adverse mental health outcomes.
  • Substantial knowledge gaps need to be addressed to better understand the risk and underlying mechanisms, assess the co-benefits from emission reductions, and develop mitigation strategies.
  • Concerted efforts from the scientific, public health, and medical communities, leaders, and decision-makers of government and nongovernment organizations are needed to protect children's mental health.

Author Biography

Michael Weitzman currently is a Professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine at the New York University Grossman Medical School and Professor of Global Public Health at the New York University School of Public Health. His entire career has been devoted to explicating and ameliorating environmental and social influences on children’s health via research, translation of research into public and clinical policy, and training the next generation of pediatric and public health practitioners and researchers. He has been a professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at 3 universities as well as serving as the Director of Maternal and Child for the City of Boston. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers concerning a diverse array of children’s health problems including lead poisoning, prenatal and secondhand smoke exposure, environmental influences on childhood asthma, influences on academic performance, the roles of maternal and paternal mental health in multiple aspects of child health and functioning and racial, multiple child nutritional problems and economic disparities in child health and health services. He also has a long history of serving in an advisory capacity to various federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Child Health Protection Committee, as well as several of its Lead Advisory Committees and the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee. For his work related to child secondhand smoke exposure he was awarded the first ever EPA Child Environmental Health Advocate Award, and he has been the recipient of the Children’s Environmental Health Network’s Research Award, and of both the Academic Pediatric Association’s Research and Mentoring Awards. Dr. Weitzman was the recipient of the single most prestigious honor in American Pediatrics, the John Howland Award, from the American Pediatric Association.