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Changing Climate Exacerbating The Hay Fever That Torments Millions Globally

Press release   •   Apr 04, 2016 10:22 UTC

Stockholm, Sweden, March 30, 2016 – For tens of millions of people around the world from Los Angeles to Delhi, London to Beijing the annual changes in season bring an onslaught of itchy eyes, wheezing, sneezing, and other symptoms sparked by ‘allergic rhinitis’. And the torments are being exacerbated by global warming, which is causing plants to generate more pollen than before, helping invasive weeds to spread and extending pollen seasons, warns Blueair, a world leader in indoor air purification technologies designed to remove airborne contaminants.
 

“There is now convincing scientific evidence that climate change is spurring increased pollen concentrations, resulting in increased allergen exposure and ever-more allergy sufferers,” said Bengt Rittri, founder and CEO of Blueair. Mr. Rittri said growing allergic rhinitis rates highlight the need for people to be made aware that they can alleviate the problem using indoor air purifiers with hepa air filters at home or in the workplace to create safer indoor havens. 

The World Allergy Organisation (WAO), an international alliance of 97 regional and national allergy, asthma and immunology societies, says allergies such as hay fever are increasing in prevalence and severity and will continue to be a concern as temperatures rise and exposures increase.

Over 400 million people around the world are estimated to suffer from the misery caused by allergic rhinitis. In the United States, it affects between 10 to 30 percent of the population and up to 40 percent of children and causes direct medical costs that increased from US$6.1 billion in 2000 to US$11.2 billion in 2005, a greater toll than diabetes, coronary heart diseases and asthma, according to WAO.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a U.S. organization founded by scientists and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to work towards solving pressing environmental and social problems, says three main factors related to climate change fuel increases in allergens: higher carbon dioxide levels, rising temperatures and extended spring seasons.

In China, a 2013 study by Chinese scientists concluded that the prevalence of allergic rhinitis has increased in both adults and children over the last two decades in many areas of China. The authors said that it was likely that a "western" type lifestyle in combination with industrialization and a substantial rise in levels of fossil fuel-derived air pollutants has contributed to the growing levels of hay fever symptoms.

Similarly, researchers in India, which experiences varying pollen seasons in different parts of the nation, have said rapid industrialization and urbanization had significantly enhanced the problems of people suffering respiratory problems such as hay fever.

Speaking on the eve of World Allergy Week that will run globally from April 4 - 10, 2016, the Blueair chief executive said people will need to take greater individual responsibility to protect themselves against rising levels of allergens in the air they are breathing.

“With hay fever and diseases like asthma on the rise, we are very much what we breathe. There is little we can do about bad air outside except wear masks, but inside our homes and workplaces we can create safer havens by using air purifiers such as Blueair's to remove allergens before they attack our sensitive respiratory system,” said Mr. Rittri.


Background

- Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, a team of scientists in 2015 concluded that 'Climate change and ragweed seed dispersal in current and future suitable areas will increase airborne pollen concentrations, which may consequently heighten the incidence and prevalence of ragweed allergy.’ Ragweed pollen can provoke severe allergic reactions and has been shown to extend the hay fever season from summer to autumn. A native of North America, ragweed has been aggressively spreading to other areas, including Europe since the 1960s. (Pollen from the plant not only induces severe allergic reactions but also extends the hay fever season from summer to autumn. http://goo.gl/a5UPD1

- The Union for Concerned Scientists, a U.S. group that lobbies for scientific research to be directed away from military technologies and toward solving pressing environmental and social problems, has addressed how changing climate worsens allergy symptoms. With over 40 million Americans suffering spring allergies, UCS noted how researchers have found that changes in climate impose additional strains on those with pollen allergies. http://goo.gl/Vk4oin

- World Allergy Week is an annual initiative of the World Allergy Organisation, which established the initiative with the vision of bringing together multiple stakeholder groups including physicians, medical educators, patient advocates, policy-makers, the general public, and health care authorities for an integrated approach to addressing the needs of patients who suffer from allergic diseases and asthma and those who provide care for them.

Sold in some 64 countries around the world, Blueair delivers home and office users more clean indoor air for enhanced user health and wellbeing faster than any competing air purifier thanks to its commitment to quality, energy efficiency and environmental care. A Blueair air purifier works efficiently, silently to remove 99.97% of allergens, asthma triggers, viruses, bacteria and other airborne pollutants.