Climate Change Grows More Allergen-Producing Plants and Fungi - Rising CO2, Temperatures Can Raise Allergen Levels

Released: 11/4/2010 2:00 PM EDT
Embargo expired: 11/12/2010 12:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)
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Newswise — Bad news for 35 million allergy sufferers – ragweed, fungal spores and poison ivy are thriving due to rising carbon dioxide levels. At the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Phoenix, Nov. 11-16, allergists and scientists discussed the effects of rising CO2 levels and a changing climate on plant biology and public health.

“Plant-based respiratory allergies are on the rise and increased levels of ragweed pollen are in the air,” said ACAAI symposium presenter Lewis Ziska, PhD, a plant physiologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. “Climate change is affecting plants and human health, especially allergy sufferers.”

Additionally, leaves fed by heightened levels of carbon dioxide enable fungi to reproduce more rapidly and spread more allergenic spores, leading to higher rates of allergies and asthma.

Climate change also affects allergen levels in homes, schools and offices. Not only are people allergic to outdoor allergies going to experience more symptoms, so are people with indoor allergies.

“Climate change causes indoor humidity levels to increase, which may contribute to the proliferation of dust mite and mold – allergy triggers for many people,” said allergist and ACAAI member Wanda Phipatanakul, MD. “Furthermore, people stay indoors with higher humidity levels and allergic individuals then have more exposure to indoor allergens.”

Symptoms of these pesky allergens include sneezing, inflammation of the nose and eyes, and wheezing. Complicating factors, including nasal polyps or secondary infections of the ears, nose, and throat, may also occur. Severe complications include asthma, cardiac distress, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and anaphylaxis.

Also, high temperature and humidity decomposes discarded food faster which makes garbage more attractive to insects which can be allergens.

“Cockroaches can trigger allergies and asthma,” said Dr. Phipatanakul. “These pests should be suspected when allergy symptoms – stuffy nose, inflamed eyes or ears, skin rash or bronchial asthma – persist year round.”

Allergists have the training and expertise to treat more than just the symptoms of these allergens. Allergists can identify the source of your suffering and stop it.

The “Climate Change and Its Impact on Respiratory Health” Symposium is presented by ACAAI under contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

About ACAAI
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research.

To learn more about allergies and asthma, take a relief test and find an allergist, visit www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org

Follow the ACAAI annual meeting on Twitter at #ACAAI2010.

The ACAAI Press Room is located in Room 121B at the Phoenix Convention Center, November 12 - 15, 2010; phone 602-514-5360, media@acaai.org.


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