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Environmental Assessment

A Review of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Aeroallergens and Their Associated Effects on Human Morbidity and Mortality in the U.S. (External Review Draft)

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Report Information

EPA has released for public comment a draft report entitled, A Review of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Aeroallergens and their Associated Effects. This draft report is a survey of the current state of scientific knowledge of the potential impacts of climate change and climate variability on aeroallergens in the United States -- including the impacts of pollens, molds, and indoor allergens -- and their associated effects on allergenic illnesses.

Since 1998, EPA has been assessing the consequences of global change on weather-related morbidity, on vector- and water-borne diseases, and on airborne allergens and ambient pollutants, especially tropospheric ozone and fine particles. This draft report, once finalized, will add to the increasing body of knowledge on potential effects of global climate change on human health.

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Janet L. Gamble
  • by phone at:   703-347-8617
  • by email at:  gamble.janet@epa.gov

Background

This report presents a survey of the current state of knowledge of the potential impacts of climate change and variability on aeroallergens --- pollen, mold, and indoor allergens --- in the United States and the allergenic illnesses associated with them. Allergies and allergy-related illnesses are widespread in the U.S. and impose substantial economic and quality of life burdens.

Changes in climate, including increased CO2 concentrations, could impact the production, distribution, and dispersion of aeroallergens; allergen content; and the growth and distribution of the weeds, grasses, tress, and mold that produce them. While the literature does not provide definitive data or conclusions on how climate change might impact aeroallergens and subsequently allergenic illnesses, some tentative conclusions can be drawn:
  • Pollen production is likely to increase in many parts of the U.S. with the possible exception of the Southeast;
  • Phenologic advance is likely to occur for numerous species of plants, especially trees;
  • There will likely be changes in the distribution of pollen producing species, including the possibility of extinction in some cases;
  • Intercontinental dispersal is possible, facilitating the introduction of new aeroallergens into the U.S.; and
  • Increases in allergen content of some aeroallergens are possible.

History/Chronology

Spring 2006Preparation of internal review draft.
Jun 2006Review of internal review draft by 5 EPA reviewers.
Jul 2006Update of document in response to reviewer comments.
Dec 2006Release of external review draft for public comment and letter review by external panel.

Next Steps

This is the External Review Draft. Concluding the external review, a journal manuscript will be prepared for submission to the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Citation

U.S. EPA. A Review of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Aeroallergens and Their Associated Effects on Human Morbidity and Mortality in the U.S. (External Review Draft). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-06/164F, 2006.

Downloads

This download(s) is distributed solely for the purpose of pre-dissemination peer review under applicable information quality guidelines. It has not been formally disseminated by EPA. It does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency determination or policy.

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