How does climate change worsen allergy symptoms?
The long-term effects of climate change have been well documented, but they have not often been discussed through the lens of allergies, even though the effects can be debilitating for those with sensitivities to certain irritants.
Yesterday, this blog reported about the hazards that allergy sufferers face as the calendar turns to the summer months, including smoke from fires and drastic weather changes. Although many individuals with allergies developed symptoms earlier than usual due to a mild winter, this exposure to these irritants has not helped many to build an immunity to allergens that are just now beginning to arise.
One issue that is not discussed as often as it relates to allergies is climate change, which can have a significant detrimental effect on air quality. Studies have shown that warmer temperatures contribute to higher ozone levels, which are responsible for smog that settles over urban areas on the hottest days.
Sudden spikes in air temperature are also responsible for serious thunderstorms and hurricanes that can inundate entire regions with a deluge of rain. Although these storms may wash away pollen, they could also contribute to areas of standing water, which can ultimately produce pockets of mold growth that cause more suffering among those with allergies.
"Climate change is a serious public health issue," according to a joint statement by more than 100 healthcare organizations on the topic. "As temperatures rise, more Americans will be exposed to conditions that can result in illness and death due to respiratory illness, heat- and weather-related stress and disease carried by insects. These health issues are likely to have the greatest impact on our most vulnerable communities."
On the hottest days of the year, these individuals should seek refuge in their homes, where low-quality air and irritants will not affect them as much. Regular operation of a HEPA air purifier indoors can help create an environment that will keep individuals healthy.