Global Warming and Allergies

“Global warming”, also referred as to “climate change”, is a subject that has received major attention during the past years. The concept of global warming popularly used now refers to a gradual raise in the global ambient temperature that began in the 19th century, parallel with an increase in levels of air pollutants resulting from human activities, associated with industrialization and the use of fossil fuels. Climate change refers to climatic alterations over extended periods, often millennia.

While the real occurrence of global warming has been debated, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prepared an extensive report, which supports that global warming is occurring. Direct data indicates an increase in the levels of atmospheric CO2 parallel with an increase of the global surface temperature over time. Changes in rainfall patterns have accompanied the detected temperature increase.

Climate change has been reported to affect ecosystems. Warmer temperatures have altered the geographical distribution of many plant species and their pollination patterns. For example, ragweed pollinates earlier now than in the past and produces larger quantities of pollen in urban vs rural areas. Indirect evidence suggests that allergic individuals could suffer more severe and frequent exacerbations of the disease in the future.

While the proposition that global warming could indirectly affect allergic individuals has gained a lot of media attention, this hypothesis needs to be evaluated by conducting long-term epidemiological studies, which should include the analysis of potential confounding factors. The potential connection between global warming and allergies should be an area of research involving multi-discipline groups.

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Posted in Allergen Exposure and Allergic Disease.