Increasing Temperatures will Affect Asthma and Seasonal Allergies


Via Flickr

Maxwell Bernstein | March 31, 2021

Asthma and seasonal allergies will become worse as temperatures increase from climate change according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. As temperatures warm, flowers and plants bloom earlier which increases the concentration of pollen and carbon dioxide. These higher concentrations of pollen exacerbate allergies and asthma.

Roughly 7.8% of Americans who are 18 and older have hay fever and 7.7% of adults have asthma. From 1995 to 2011, warmer temperatures have increased the U.S. pollen season from 11 to 27 days, a trend that will only increase the length and severity of seasonal allergies.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reported that asthma disproportionately affects Black, Hispanic, and native populations, who all have higher asthma rates, hospitalizations, and death. Social determinants and structural inequities such as systemic racism, segregation, discriminatory policies, socioeconomic status, education, neighborhoods and physical environments, employment, social support structures, and access to healthcare largely drive asthma disparities.

On the Radio: Climate statement addresses public health


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Des Moines University Professor Yogi Shah addresses media during the release of the Iowa Climate Statement 2015.

 

June 29, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks ways the Iowa Climate Statement 2015 highlighted public health issues related to climate change. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Climate Statement and Public Health

SCIENTISTS AND RESEARCHERS IN IOWA HOPE TO USE THE STATE’S ROLE AS THE FIRST IN THE NATION CAUCUS TO BRING PUBLIC HEALTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE INTO THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE.

THIS IS THE IOWA ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS.

THE FIFTH ANNUAL STATEMENT ENCOURAGES IOWANS TO ASK PRESIDENTAL HOPEFULS HOW THEY PLAN TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE WHILE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL IN IOWA. DES MOINES UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR YOGI SHAH CITED SEVERAL PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS AFFECTING IOWANS INCLUDING INCREASED FLOODING, INCREASED RATES OF INSECT-BORNE DISEASES, AS WELL AS INCREASED ALLERGEN RATES AND A LONGER ALLERGEN SEASON.

YOGI SHAH: “Because of increased CO2 in the air, the ragweeds, the poisons, the proteins are stronger and causing more allergies. So that way we are seeing longer seasons. In Iowa itself, shown by national studies, we have 19 extra days of allergies which we didn’t see a few years ago.”

188 SCIENTISTS FROM 39 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES SIGNED ‘IOWA CLIMATE STATEMENT 2015: TIME FOR ACTION.’

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE STATEMENT, VISIT IOWAENVIRONMENTALFOCUS.ORG

FROM THE UI CENTER FOR GLOBAL AND REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, I’M JERRY SCHNOOR.

Climate action can help curb hay fever, asthma


Allan Foster/Flickr
Allan Foster/Flickr

KC McGinnis | May 27, 2015

With one in three Americans exposed to worsening allergies and asthma as a result of climate change, sustainable practices could mean fewer hay fevers.

The National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Sneezing and Wheezing report recently highlighted the United States’ allergy epicenters – areas with both high ragweed content and high levels of ground-level ozone, or smog – revealing that about 109 million Americans live in these areas. The report shows that the changing climate is leading to higher production of allergenic ragweed pollen and favoring the formation of smog in industrial areas. These factors can lead to an extended allergy season across the U.S. and increases in asthma attacks, especially in children.

An estimated 24 million Americans were diagnosed with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in 2012, with symptoms ranging from runny nose to throat, eye and ear irritation. These illnesses often lead to missed work days – more than 3.8 million, according to the NRDC. More concerning, however, is the increase in asthma among children, a chronic lung disease which can be triggered by allergens.

With air quality closely linked to allergy and asthma severity, decreasing CO2 emissions is expected to lead to improving respiratory conditions, especially in heavily populated and industrial areas. This is especially true with industrial facilities and power plants, which both source ozone-producing chemicals and drive climate change with carbon emissions. Minimizing these emissions could have the double impact of slowing climate change and reducing smog, leading to decreases in hay fever and asthma severity.

Last year’s Iowa Climate Statement 2014: Impacts on the Health of Iowans, further highlighted the importance of decreased emissions. See the full statement here, and the complete list of Iowa Climate Statements, including this year’s, which focuses on a call for presidential candidates to address climate change, here.

New ozone emission standards on the horizon


Extreme smog over Los Angeles from a 1995 archive photo. (Metro Library/Flickr)
Extreme smog over Los Angeles, as seen in an archival photo from 1995. (Metro Library and Archive/Flickr)

KC McGinnis | November 26, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set today to release a draft proposal that could dramatically reduce ozone emissions from power plants and other sources by 2015.

At the stratospheric level, ozone acts as an important natural filter, blocking out the sun’s ultraviolet rays. At the ground level, however, ozone released from power plants is the main component of smog, a pervasive problem in urban areas that can lead to asthma and other serious pulmonary conditions. The new proposal would lower how much of this ground-level ozone is considered healthy to breathe.

The EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee earlier this year recommended ozone levels be reduced to as low as 60 parts per billion, down from the current standard of 75 ppb set in 2008 under the Bush administration. This would require power plants to implement new strategies and technologies that could accommodate those standards, leading one business group to call it “the most expensive regulation ever imposed.”

The EPA committee, however, argues that the health benefits from the measures would lead to economic benefits that would offset the costs of implementation. These benefits include increased productivity due to reduced morbidity and mortality from pulmonary conditions caused by smog and pollution. The American Lung Association supports the ozone-lowering measures recommended by the EPA, citing the gas as “the most widespread air pollutant,” with effects ranging from coughing and wheezing to low birth weight in newborns.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must issue a new ozone proposal by next week, which environmental groups hope will be as strong as the one Obama struck down in 2011, just before the 2012 presidential election. A 60 ppb ozone standard, or a more likely standard in the 65-70 ppb range, would be a significant step toward reducing ground-level ozone to what scientists view as a healthier, more sustainable level.

On the Radio: Iowa Climate Statement highlights health risks from climate change


The Iowa Climate Statement 2014: Impacts on the Health of Iowans, outlined climate change issues that are affecting respiratory health among Iowans, like childhood allergy-induced asthma. (Kristy Faith/Flickr)
The Iowa Climate Statement 2014: Impacts on the Health of Iowans, outlined climate change issues that are affecting respiratory health among Iowans, like childhood allergy-induced asthma. (Kristy Faith/Flickr)

October 13, 2014

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at highlights from the Iowa Climate Statement 2014: Impacts on the Health of Iowans, released Friday. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Iowa Climate Statement

Hotter temperatures, higher humidity levels, and other conditions attributed to climate change are hurting the health of Iowans, according to leading Iowa scientists.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The Iowa Climate Statement 2014: Impacts on the Health of Iowans, released in October, outlined climate change issues that are affecting respiratory and cardiovascular health. The fourth annual statement was signed by 180 scientists and researchers from 38 colleges and universities across Iowa.

With a longer growing season, plants produce more pollen – pollen that is increasingly potent – making it more difficult for many Iowans to breathe. Childhood asthma rates are also on the rise, due in part to higher indoor moisture levels. Rising temperatures have allowed disease-carrying mosquitos and ticks to migrate further north into the Midwest, resulting in cases of Dengue Fever and Ehrlichiosis being reported in Iowa this year.

For more information about the Iowa Climate Statement 2014, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.