Global Warming Affects Allergies?

What does global warming have to do with allergies?

Global warming may have an impact on your seasonal allergies, according to recent research. Based on the information scientists have gleaned, there is reason to think that your allergies may become increasing worse as the temperatures change (and that people who had no previous allergic tendencies will begin to develop allergies). The warmer climate provides a longer growing season for ragweed and the additional carbon dioxide (CO2) present in the air substantially increases the amount of pollen produced.

The primary problem is the sheer amount of ragweed pollen being produced– the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that ragweed pollen counts have doubled over the past 40 years. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that allergy and asthma related mortalities in the U. S. have practically doubled as well. This increase in deaths may not be attributed to worse symptoms, but an increase in individuals affected by allergies and asthma.

The Experiment:

Ragweed seedlings were planted over 315-day intervals. Different groups of plants were kept in glass houses and exposed to varying amounts of CO2. As the ragweed plants began to produce buds, open topped bags were placed over the flower clusters (called inflorescences) in order to collect the pollen they released. The plants that were exposed to greater amounts of CO2 had a high percentage of increased pollen production and the researchers deduced: “Overall, ragweed pollen production can be expected to increase significantly under predicted future climate conditions”.

(Visit the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ website to read the entire research lab report).

Because August is the month when ragweed begins to release pollen, here are a few things that you can do to reduce your exposure:

  1. Keep all the windows and doors of your house closed – especially in the late afternoon and evening, which is when pollen counts climb dramatically.
  2. Close the windows while driving in your car-and if your car’s air conditioning has the option to recycle the air in the car, turn it to this setting.
  3. When outside, wearing a pair of sunglasses will not only protect your eyes from the glare of the sun, but it may help keep pollen from landing on the delicate linings of your eyes.
  4. Avoid freshly mowed lawns and fields- it’s not only the pollen that causes allergies, the same protein found in ragweed pollen is also found in the plant itself. Mowing chops up the plants into tiny fragments that are just as easily inhaled as pollen.
  5. Take off your shoes just outside your door to avoid tracking pollen indoors.
  6. Keep your hair pulled back while you are outside and take a quick shower before going to bed to wash away any pollen that has collected in your hair and will be transferred to your pillow.
  7. Use a HEPA air filter in your bedroom, or in place of your existing furnace/air conditioning filter to reduce the amount of free-floating pollen in your home. Dyamic Air Cleaners makes freestanding console units that are good for bedrooms and a panel filter that fits easily into the slot for your existing filter.