Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pollen levels on the rise thanks to climate change, scientists say

Roxanne Palmer in the International Business Times: An unseasonably warm winter made 2012 one of the worst years for people with allergies, but scientists say it's just the start of an upward trend. Thanks to climate change, pollen counts are only going to climb higher, more than doubling by the year 2040.

Nearly 8 percent of people over the age of 18 in the U.S. have hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, which is primarily triggered by plant pollen. People with pollen allergies have immune systems that overreact to the presence of plant pollens and flood the body with inflammatory molecules, including histamines.

More pollen and longer pollen seasons will mean many more sniffly and itchy days for allergy sufferers. At a meeting for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergist Leonard Bielory presented results from a study modeling climate change's predicted effect on pollen counts that is in progress at Rutgers University.

"Climate changes will increase pollen production considerably in the near future in different parts of the country," Bielory said in a statement Friday. "Economic growth, global environment sustainability, temperature and human-induced changes, such as increased levels of carbon dioxide, are all responsible for the influx that will continue to be seen."...

Frozen balls of pollen, shot by Lamiot, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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