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Global Warming Kicks Up Allergy Storm
Date:3/1/2010

Longer pollen seasons, more allergy sufferers are the result, study finds,,

MONDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- The rise in temperatures associated with climate change might have an unexpected consequence: more allergies among more people.

New research from Italy suggests that higher temperatures are lengthening the pollen season for some plants and trees, increasing the pollen load they produce and causing a rise in the number of people who are developing allergies to certain pollens.

"The increase of global radiation determines an advance [of pollen season] and an increased period of exposure to the pollens," said study author Dr. Renato Ariano, director of the allergy service at Bordighera Hospital in Italy. Ariano said the increased exposure to pollen can cause more people who are susceptible to allergy to actually develop pollen allergies.

Ariano was scheduled to present the findings Monday in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

For nearly 30 years, Ariano and his colleagues have been recording pollen counts, the length of pollen seasons and the prevalence of people sensitized to five major pollens in the Bordighera region of Italy -- birch, cypress, olive, grass and parietaria, a common plant in that region.

The Bordighera region is in western Liguria, on the Mediterranean Sea at the border of Italy and France, said study author Dr. Giovanni Passalacqua, an assistant professor of allergy and respiratory diseases at Genoa University in Italy. Bordighera "has a very mild Mediterranean climate and is surrounded by a rural landscape where flowers and olives are cultivated," he said.

Between 1981 and 2007, the researchers noted an earlier start for pollen season. In the case of parietaria, the pollen season began about 80 days sooner at the end of the study period than it did at the beginning. For olive trees, the pollen seaso
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