Asthma and allergies to surge with climate change: New research

• March 22, 2012
Dandelion feathers in grass

Creative Commons: Ella J Phillips, 2009

The impacts of climate change won’t only be apparent on the planet itself, but on human health as well, according to a group of doctors who warn that worldwide increases in climate change-related asthma, allergies and a range of other health problems are on the way.

In a new position paper, a 13-member committee from the American Thoracic Society, which represents respiratory physicians, claims that rising global temperatures, spreading desertification and other climate-related problems will bring boosts around the world in the incidence of a range of illnesses, including infectious diseases.

The paper, written by doctors from Europe, Asia, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, traces the ongoing expansion and intensification of diseases around the world and looks at what they may imply as climate impacts strengthen.

“There are certain diseases caused by certain types of parasites or organisms whose range has expanded and that has been associated with increases in temperature,” said Dr. Kent Pinkerton, a co-author of the paper, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, and director of the university’s Center for Health and the Environment.

For example, asthma-inducing mold spores previously only found in Central America now have been found as far north as Canada. “Infectious diseases common in the Mediterranean region now are being seen as far north as Scandinavia, as that area grows warmer,” Pinkerton said. “Also, the eastern United States has experienced longer, intense pollen seasons.”

Even worsening wildfires and growing desertification, associated with dryer conditions, are adding to the disease problem, said Pinkerton, whose research looks in part at how heat affects air quality.

Read more: Reuters Alertnet >>

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TckTckTck is the online hub for the Global Call for Climate Action. The GCCA represents an unprecedented alliance of more than 400 nonprofit organizations from around the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.

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