Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Impacts of climate change on aeroallergens: past and future

Authors


Paul John Beggs, Department of Physical Geography, Division of Environmental and Life Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia.
E-mail: paul.beggs@mq.edu.au

Abstract

Summary Human activities are resulting in increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, and changes in global climate. These, in turn, are likely to have had, and will continue to have, impacts on human health. While such impacts have received increasing attention in recent years, the impacts of climate change on aeroallergens and related allergic diseases have been somewhat neglected. Despite this, a number of studies have revealed potential impacts of climate change on aeroallergens that may have enormous clinical and public health significance. The purpose of this review is to synthesize this work and to outline a number of research challenges in this area. There is now considerable evidence to suggest that climate change will have, and has already had, impacts on aeroallergens. These include impacts on pollen amount, pollen allergenicity, pollen season, plant and pollen distribution, and other plant attributes. There is also some evidence of impacts on other aeroallergens, such as mould spores. There are many research challenges along the road to a more complete understanding of the impacts of climate change on aeroallergens and allergic diseases such as asthma and hayfever. It is important that public health authorities and allergy practitioners be aware of these changes in the environment, and that research scientists embrace the challenges that face further work in this area.

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