Due to climate change, some factors that cause allergies and asthma are getting more and more powerful. And it is when they combine their powers that they manage to create a full-on epidemic in the areas where they are most widely represented. This is how a study ended up making a list of America’s sneeziest and wheeziest cities.
There are numerous and various frightening phenomena attributed to climate change. Some affect the environment and some affect the animals, and these ultimately indirectly affect each and every one of us. But some phenomena are able to affect people directly.
The latest one was described in a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a New York environmental advocacy organization. Their study was wittily entitled “Sneezing and Wheezing: How Climate Change Could Increase Ragweed Allergies, Air Pollution and Asthma”.
The researchers are blaming this allergy epidemic that the US is facing on two main factors: increased ozone levels in the environment and ragweed pollen. Both of these factors are capable of making serious damage to a person’s respiratory system, but both of them together have a synergistic devastating effect that ultimately causes people a lot of suffering.
According to the findings of this study, America’s sneeziest city is Ritchmond, followed closely by Memphis, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. Even Chicago made it to number six on the list, while Atlanta ended it at number 10.
“Americans deserve to breathe clean air, but today millions of us are sneezing and wheezing from allergies and asthma worsened by climate change-fueled ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution,” said Juan Declet-Barreto, head author of the study.
Ragweed pollen is a famous cause of seasonal allergies, and what climate change will do is cause these plants among others to produce a higher quantity of pollen throughout a longer period of time, thus prolonging the allergy season.
The symptoms include frequent sneezing, that causes the inflammation of the nasal mucosa, and therefore prevents the patients from breathing properly. It also causes the eyes to tear up and become inflamed themselves. Having these symptoms can constitute serious health problems when suffered for a long period of time.
The same manifestations can be observed in the case of exposure to high ozone levels, that actively affect the lungs. Since smog is ever-present in big cities, and ozone is a component of smog, this type of allergies is bound to get worse as well, due to the warming of the environment.
The combination of these two factors however is capable of triggering new cases of allergies and asthma, but it can also worsen pre-existing cases considerably. And if the patient is suffering from other diseases at the same time, the situation may become exponentially more serious than a case of the sniffles.
This study has yet to be published in a scientific journal but it is meant to draw awareness to yet another consequence of climate change. The scientists behind this paper strongly advise that strict measures be taken to delay and diminish the effects of climate change before the allergy epidemic becomes more serious than it already is.
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