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Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Date:5/11/2009

Longer pollen seasons, more ozone mean more symptoms for those at risk, experts say,,,,

MONDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Climate change isn't only bad for the Earth, it may be bad for your health -- especially if you have allergies or asthma.

Global warming is making pollen seasons last longer, creating more ozone in the air, and even expanding the areas where insects flourish, putting more people with bee allergies at greater risk, experts say.

"Climate change will cause impacts in every area. Wet areas will get wetter, and drier climates are getting drier," said Dr. Jeffrey Demain, director of the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska, and a clinical associate professor at the University of Washington.

Those changes will mean more people with allergies and asthma will suffer. In wet areas, mold allergies will spike, while in drier areas pollens and other airborne irritants will become more of a problem, he said.

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it believes carbon dioxide and five additional greenhouse gases are dangerous to human health. This finding may eventually lead to environmentally friendly changes, such as regulations for cleaner energy and more fuel-efficient cars.

But, right now, problems caused by climate change are already evident, especially in Alaska, Demain said.

"There's been a significant shift in the ecosystem because of the rises in winter temperatures," he said. "On average, Alaska's temp has risen 6.4 degrees in winter and 3.4 degrees overall. And, the earlier the snow melts, the earlier the pollen cycle begins."

In addition to longer pollen seasons, the plant and tree life is changing along with the warmer temperatures. Demain said it's estimated that 90 percent of the Alaskan tundra will be forested by 2100, and that the types of trees that are most common are changing, too.

The warmer temperatu
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