Climate change affects kidney health: Expert

Dr Santosh Varughese

Chennai: Climate changes can have severe impact on human health.

It is estimated that rise in daily temperature by one degree Celsius can impact renal health, says Christian Medical College (CMC) professor of nephrology, Dr Santosh Varughese.

He was participating in the 18th conference of the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF), inaugurated yesterday, and highlighted the impact of climate change on renal health.

Until recently, chronic kidney disease (CKD) was considered to be the consequence of diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

However, it is also identified that recurrent episodes of acute kidney injury (AKI) and environmental and occupational hazards can lead to CKD.

There are several hotspots in the country that can cause significant deterioration of kidney health. “In the identified hotspots, people have a higher CKD incidences than normal. In certain countries, the temperature changes is anomalous and about 40 per cent of the population live with the average temperature of more than 30 degree Celsius in day time. The working nature in such countries are also physically demanding, poor employment alternatives and a few other factors contribute to kidney health,” said Dr Santosh Varughese.


The nephrologist emphasised on occupational health that has consequences in developed and developing countries and has highest impact in tropical regions and low and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Climate change along with environmental conditions, social infrastructure and public health is said to impact human health.

“Mesoamerican nephropathy is one such condition where usage of pesticides is suspected and lowland workers are at high risk of acquiring CKD. The workers are subjected to uninterrupted, intense physical exertion. Inadvertently, the workers do not consume water from time to time, leading to dehydration,” he explained.

“High environment temperature coupled with strenuous work, insufficient rehydration and impaired heat dissipation causes repeated acute kidney injury episodes that lead to CKD,” he added.


Considering the relevance to India, it is recorded that the average number of heat waves is highest between March and July. Andhra Pradesh witnessed the longest heat waves and Akola district in Maharashtra and central Odisha region are also brought under the scanner.

He pointed out that in contrast, Goa does not show heat wave pattern. The high-risk community includes outdoor workers, city-dwellers, farmers and athletes.

Deriving lessons from the recent devastation including 2015 floods and 2018 Kerala floods, many of them contracted leptospirosis, water-borne illnesses and infectious diseases which can affect the kidney.

Giving a solution, he said, “For safe renal health, we can have policies to prevent occupational health stress and emphasising on practising healthy habits as mentioned in 2015 World Kidney Day which had the theme of regular water consumption.”

Bhavani Prabhakar