SEATTLE - Washington residents with allergies are well aware that spring
is in full swing, as a new report from the National Wildlife
finds that more people are suffering from allergies
and related asthma than were affected 20 years ago. At the same time,
seasonal allergy triggers are flourishing as the climate changes.
Researcher Paul Epstein of the Harvard University Center for Health
and the Global Environment
says that, setting aside the debate
about global warming, it's a fact that carbon dioxide levels in the
atmosphere have risen. Scientists know that has an impact on plants, but
Epstein says there are some new things they're learning.
"We knew that it would green the earth and stimulate plant growth. We
hadn't foreseen that the nuisance, opportunistic species, like weeds,
would make a lot more pollen."
Tree pollen is the chief allergy culprit in the spring and ragweed is
the main problem in the fall.
Mike Tringale, director of external affairs with the Asthma and
Allergy Foundation of America
, says the allergic reactions are more
than just a nuisance; asthma can be life-threatening. He sees the
report as a call to action for allergy sufferers and everyone else.
"We want them to improve their relationships with their doctors so that
they can have a better allergy and asthma management plan, and we want
communities to improve their response to the global warming problem."
The report shows that seasonal allergies and asthma affect 50 million
people nationwide, and cost nearly $27 billion in medical expenses, with
those numbers predicted to rise as trouble plants continue to expand
their ranges and flowering seasons.
The report, "Extreme Allergies and Global Warming," is available online