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Global Change Impacts & Adaptation

A Review of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Aeroallergens and Their Associated Effects (Final Report)

Notice

EPA announced the release of the final report entitled: A Review of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Aeroallergens and their Associated Effects.

Report Information

This 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. With this completed, this report adds 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

Cover of the Aeroallergens Report 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

Jun 2006EPA conducts an internal review of the report.
Jul 2006EPA updates the document in response to reviewer comments.
Dec 2006EPA releases the draft document for an external peer review and public comment.
Aug 2008EPA finalized the comments and released the completed document.

Next Steps

This is the final report.

Citation

U.S. EPA. A Review of the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Aeroallergens and Their Associated Effects (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-06/164F, 2008.

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