May 13, 2015
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Climate change may trigger allergies in 109 million Americans in high-risk areas

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A new Natural Resources Defense Council report states individuals living in cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles, are more likely to find it difficult to breathe and suffer from allergy symptoms because of climatic warming.

Approximately 109 million residents nationwide are most vulnerable and expected to experience the effects of increases in ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution as the climate changes, according to the NRDC’s Sneezing and Wheezing: How Climate Change Could Increase Ragweed Allergies, Air Pollution and Asthma report.

Juan Declet-Barreto

Juan Declet-Barreto

During a teleconference today, Juan Declet-Barreto, PhD, co-investigator and climate health-science center fellow at the NRDC, emphasized the importance of policymaking to better safeguard the air.

“The U.S. government should improve the extent and frequency of ragweed pollen data collection,” he said. "This could be accomplished through developing a cross-agency comprehensive reporting and tracking system, and by establishing a network of daily pollen collection sites.”

Declet-Barreto also said the Environmental Protection Agency plays an important role in future public health.

“The EPA should strengthen the health standard for pollution to better protect public health, including vulnerable groups like children, the elderly and people suffering from asthma,” he said. While the current standard for ozone pollution is 75 parts per billion, Declet-Barreto said, the EPA has proposed tightening that standard to 65 ppb to 70 ppb.

The top 10 “sneeziest and wheeziest” cities in 2014, identified by the NRDC’s report, with the highest ragweed pollen and ozone pollution are:

  • 1. Richmond, Virginia;
  • 2. Memphis, Tennessee;
  • 3. Oklahoma City;
  • 4. Philadelphia;
  • 5. Chattanooga, Tennessee;
  • 6. Chicago;
  • 7. Detroit;
  • 8. New Haven, Connecticut;
  • 9. Allentown, Pennsylvania; and
  • 10. Atlanta.

by Ryan McDonald

Disclosure: Healio.com/Allergy was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.