Is climate change causing allergies?
May 26, 2011
Apocalyptic images of global climate change include drought, rising sea levels, suffocating coral reefs and emaciated, drowning polar bears. But a new study points to some of the more immediate and mundane side effects of global warming: runny noses, itchy eyes and persistent coughs. [CaliforniaWatch]
Researchers at Quest Diagnostics say allergies are on the rise, and it’s the result of warmer temperatures and happier allergens, like ragweed and mold.
The company has tests, used by doctors, to sample blood for markers indicating whether a person is allergic to a specific item. More than 2 million blood specimens were tested.
They found that over four years of sampling, there was a nearly six percent increase in overall allergies, a 12 percent increase in mold allergies and a whopping 15 percent increase in ragweed allergies, California Watch said.
California, Nevada and Arizona had some of the largest increases in ragweed sufferers, climbing 21 percent.
“The rapid rise in common ragweed and mold is consistent with other research linking climate change to greater sensitization to select environmental allergens,” wrote the authors.
Lewis Ziska, a researcher with the United States Department of Agriculture, told California Watch he is not at all surprised by the findings.
In 2010, he and a team of scientists showed that fungal spore growth – a common allergen – increased with rises in carbon dioxide.
Ziska and another team of researchers, earlier this year, showed that the ragweed pollen season has increased by nearly a month since 1995. The team’s data, he told California Watch, “demonstrate a clear correlation between frost-free days and ragweed pollen season” and therefore, to higher exposure to the ragweed allergen.