Does Climate Change Influence Allergic Reactions?

The domino effect of climate change is evident globally, and It affects even the small organisms in our environment. On August 30th of this year, NASA started research into the declining population of planktons in the North Atlantic. It was alarming because planktons are the base of the marine food web that will have a significant impact on the marine ecosystem. Planktons are also interconnected with climate and life on Earth.

If climate change affects the small organisms, it is only logical to think that it greatly affects us humans and that we should not take this issue for granted. A 2010 collaboration of AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) and NWF (National Wildlife Federation) created a report about the impact of climate change on people with asthma and allergy:

  • More Pollen – Warmer temperature encourages more pollen. Ragweed (the primary cause of hayfever during fall) grows faster and produces more pollen per plant. These said pollens will have a higher allergenic content due to the increase in carbon dioxide levels.2
  • Worsening Air Pollution – Warmer climate makes air pollution worse so air quality will be much more difficult to deal with for people with asthma and respiratory ailments. The hot temperature plus the heat of the sun itself, cooks all the chemicals and particles in the air, creating what we call a “smog” also known as ground-level ozone.
  • Poison Ivy is more toxic – 350,000 cases of contact dermatitis due to poison ivy are reported each year, and this number is anticipated to increase during warmer temperatures due to high carbon dioxide levels available in the air. This high level of carbon dioxide makes poison ivy produce a more potent form of urushiol which the main allergenic substance found in it.

What is Climate Change?

man on the flood

Climate is the usual weather of a place that differs depending on the season. Climate change is the unusual change in the typical weather in an area. It is normal for Earth to undergo a climate change and it takes hundreds or even millions of years for that change to happen, but it is alarming since the said change is happening unnaturally and humans play a significant role in it.

Causes of Climate Change (Global Warming)

smokes from factories

Our main sources of energy are coal, oil or fossil fuel, and gas and when these are burned, the gases can cause our air to heat up. Aside from these, smoke from cigarettes, deforestation, plastic pollution, etc. also play a big factor in global warming.

Does Climate Change Make Allergies Worse?

child walking in the flood

The abundance of carbon dioxide in our air and the high temperature that comes along with it is being recognized by nature. In return, our environment reacts, and aside from the effects that we mentioned above, there are more reasons for how it may cause our allergies to get worse:

  • It affects the protein composition of pollen and fungal spores, that also affects their emission, dispersion, pollen transport, and deposition together with changing rainfall, winds and other related meteorological factors.
  • Trees that rely on wind for pollination will be more abundant as well, again for the same reason of the high level of carbon dioxide and warm temperature. These also have an impact on pollinating plants and weeds and will make the pollen season longer than usual.
  • Pollens are not the only allergen that global warming will intensify. The growth of fungal spores (indoor and outdoor) will be faster and more dominant. It is anticipated that these fungal spores will be four folds higher than its current level.
  • Global warming can cause flooding and severe storms that may result in more damp buildings and infrastructures. This will greatly encourage the growth of mold spores (known allergen for people with asthma), it is said that these mold spores also contribute to other respiratory and lung diseases.

Climate change is a complex topic. Therefore, it’s hard to be conclusive with strategies for prevention and improvements that we need to make to protect our health. People with allergies, asthma, and respiratory ailments’ best protection is to be more watchful and careful when going outdoors. Monitor the pollen and pollution levels in your area and wear protective mask and goggles. Allergy-proof your home and don’t forget to bring your medications and epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times. Our many great products such as the EpiPen Thermal Carrybag and EpiPen Holder Belt can assist with making this easier.

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