The Grand Portage Reservation is at the northeastern tip of Minnesota. The Air Quality Program has many ongoing projects in order to maintain healthy indoor and outdoor air. These projects include monitoring for regional haze and particulate matter, indoor air quality, invasive plant removal, public outreach, environmental education, alternative energy, and climate change.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Allergy Increases Linked To Climate Change

I thought this story was interesting from both a climate and ecological perspective. I did my senior project on invasive plants, and while the story does not mention invasives specifically it is true that changes to native plant communities will often favor rapidly reproducing non-native species. These types are often wind-pollinated species like ragweed that can cause allergic reactions in humans.

From the link:

Researchers from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology say in the September issue of the group's Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, that they have decisively linked climate change to "longer pollen seasons, greater exposure and increased disease burden for late summer weeds, such as ragweed."

Scientists have found that increased carbon dioxide has resulted in pollen production increases of 60 percent to 90 percent in some ragweed varieties.

"We are starting to see a trend of increased plant size and the amount of pollen and other leaves and material that they produce," said Dr. Leonard Bielory, director of the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at New Jersey Medical School.

Whether they are natives or aliens, increases in plant pollen will cause more allergic reactions in sensitive people, and speaking as one who gets frequent sneeze attacks from pollen this is not good news.

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