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Ecohealth. 2009 Sep;6(3):458-70. doi: 10.1007/s10393-009-0261-x.

Aeroallergens, allergic disease, and climate change: impacts and adaptation.

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Environmental Health Sciences Division, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, 50 University Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Recent research has shown that there are many effects of climate change on aeroallergens and thus allergic diseases in humans. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration acts as a fertilizer for plant growth. The fertilizing effects of carbon dioxide, as well as increased temperatures from climate change, increase pollen production and the allergen content of pollen grains. In addition, higher temperatures are changing the timing and duration of the pollen season. As regional climates change, plants can move into new areas and changes in atmospheric circulation can blow pollen- and spore-containing dust to new areas, thus introducing people to allergens to which they have not been exposed previously. Climate change also influences the concentrations of airborne pollutants, which alone, and in conjunction with aeroallergens, can exacerbate asthma or other respiratory illnesses. The few epidemiological analyses of meteorological factors, aeroallergens, and allergic diseases demonstrate the pathways through which climate can exert its influence on aeroallergens and allergic diseases. In addition to the need for more research, there is the imperative to take preventive and adaptive actions to address the onset and exacerbation of allergic diseases associated with climate variability and change.

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