Final Report: [Climate Change and Allergic Airway Disease] Observational,Laboratory, and Modeling Studies of the Impacts of Climate Change onAllergic Airway Disease

EPA Grant Number: R834547
Title: [Climate Change and Allergic Airway Disease] Observational,Laboratory, and Modeling Studies of the Impacts of Climate Change onAllergic Airway Disease
Investigators: Bielory, Leonard , Bonos, Stacy , Georgopoulos, Panos G. , Hom, John , Isukapalli, Sastry S. , Lankow, Richard , Mayer, Henry , Robock, Alan , Velliyagounder, Kabilan , Ziska, Lewis
Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
EPA Project Officer: Ilacqua, Vito
Project Period: April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2012 (Extended to March 31, 2016)
Project Amount: $900,000
RFA: Climate Change and Allergic Airway Disease (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Health , Climate Change

Objective:

The project objectives are to:

  • Develop a regional atmospheric dynamic model of pollen production, distribution, and dispersion.
  • Develop a population exposure and dose model for estimating pollen exposures.
  • Generate pollen phenology from the existing 25 years database from the existing certified 74 U.S. pollen counting stations.
  • Use the regional model to determine how climate change over the next 50 years will change pollen production, distribution, dispersion, and subsequently exposures.
  • Determine the impact of climate change on pollen allergenicity of various species of plants using plant chamber and transects with in vitro and in vivo techniques.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

The progress is summarized below.

  • Conducted case studies to determine how climate change will impact the spatiotemporal distributions of aeroallergens and associated population exposures by integrating information on (a) emissions of pollen, (b) meteorology, (c) land cover and land use, and (d) population demographics.
  • Developed and applied a statistical modeling system using Bayesian methods for (a) analysis of climate change impacts on allergenic pollen season based on observed climate and pollen data, and for (b) identification of empirical relationships among observed pollen season start date, duration, ambient level, and observed meteorological, phenological and geographical factors.
  • Developed and applied a regional deterministic modeling system adapting and expanding existing phenology, emissions, meteorology, and air quality models for studying production, emission, and dispersion of airborne allergenic pollens of representative species: birch (Betula), oak (Quercus), ragweed (Ambrosia), mugwort (Artemisia), and grass (Gramineae).

Technical Aspects, Findings and Results

  •  Analysis of historical airborne pollen data from approximately 85 U.S. stations indicated that responses of birch, oak, ragweed, mugwort, and grass pollens to climate change are variable. Furthermore, trends of pollen indices such as start and peak dates, season length, peak values, annual production and annual mean value of the same species behave differently in response to climate change in different U.S. regions.
  • Bayesian analysis of historical airborne pollen data from three European stations and two U.S. stations suggests that annual productions and peak values of birch pollen from 2020 to 2100 under different scenarios will be 1.3-8.0 and 1.1-7.3 times higher, respectively, than the mean values for 2000, and start and peak dates will occur approximately 2 to 4 weeks earlier.
  • Simulation results of ambient distributions of pollen in 2004 were evaluated using observed birch, oak, ragweed, mugwort, and grass pollen data from multiple AAAAI pollen stations. It was demonstrated that simulation results from the combined SMOKE-WRF-CMAQ-Pollen modeling system could characterize reasonably well the observed spatiotemporal distributions of birch, oak, ragweed, mugwort, and grass pollen. Simulation results of emissions and ambient distributions of tree, weed, and grass pollen for 2001-2004 and 2047-2050 showed that responses of pollen timing and quantity to future climatic conditions will be different for different allergenic genus and different regions.
  • Simulation results were obtained for birch, oak, ragweed, mugwort, and grass pollen distributions for periods of 2001-2004 and 2047-2050. The simulation results were evaluated and compared between the periods of 2001-2004 and 2047-2050 to estimate the climate change effects on allergenic pollen season timing and levels in future years.
  • Five representative stations in the United States were chosen to further study the relationship between start date and season length, and observed hourly temperature using a Growing Degree Hours (GDH) model. The resultant optimum threshold GDH, initial date, and base temperature were utilized to parameterize the start date and pollen season length in an emission model.
  • Trends of annual cumulative pollen count, maximum daily pollen count, start date and pollen seasons were obtained at 60 AAAAI monitoring stations, which had valid pollen data recorded during 1994-2011. Changes of mean pollen indices between the period of 1994-2000 and the period of 2001-2010 were compared to identify climate change effects on spatial temporal distributions of allergenic pollen.
  • Changes of mean pollen indices in periods of 1994-2000 and 2001-2010 were analyzed along geographic latitudes; variograms of mean pollen indices in these two periods also were calculated to identify the variation patterns of allergenic pollen timing and levels for different locations.
  • Results of recent climate change effects on observed allergenic pollen season variations of allergenic trees, weeds, and grasses were obtained for nine climate regions across the contiguous United States.
  • Population exposures to allergenic pollen of birch, oak, ragweed, mugwort, and grass were calculated for periods of 1994-2000 and 2001-2010 to assess climate change impacts in the nine climate regions (identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA]) of the contiguous United States.

Conclusions:

The research yielded the following conclusions:

  • The allergenic pollen seasons of representative trees, weeds and grasses during the 2000s across the contiguous United States have been observed to start 3.0 (95% Confidence Interval [CI], 1.1-4.9) days earlier on average than in the 1990s. The average peak value and annual total of daily counted airborne pollen have increased by 42.4% (95% CI, 21.9%- 62.9%) and 46.0% (95% CI, 21.5%-70.5%), respectively. Changes of the observed pollen season timing and airborne level depend on latitude, and are associated with changes of growing degree days, frost-free days, and precipitation. These changes are likely due to recent climate change and particularly due to the enhanced warming and precipitation at higher latitudes in the contiguous United States.
  • The biogenic emissions model developed through this project is robust with respect to the pollen emissions of oak, ragweed, mugwort, and grass, but very sensitive to perturbations in input parameters for birch pollen emissions.
  • The WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ-Pollen modeling system implemented through this project correctly predicted the observed pollen season start date and duration, and airborne pollen levels at the majority of monitoring stations for oak and ragweed pollen. The WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ-Pollen modeling system was demonstrated as being able to capture the variations in start date, season length, and airborne level of birch, mugwort, and grass pollen.
  • The response of allergenic pollen season to climate change varies in different climate regions of the contiguous United States for different taxa. For ragweed, mugwort, and grass, the regional average of pollen concentrations was predicted to decrease in the majority of climate regions during the simulated period of 2047-2050. For oak and birch, although there were not remarkable increases of airborne pollen concentrations projected for the period of 2047-2050, the number of hours during which pollen concentrations would exceed the threshold values for triggering allergies was predicted to increase in the majority of climate regions.
  • Inhalation and dermal deposition are the dominant exposure routes for allergenic pollen. The aggregated exposure to allergenic pollen in outdoor environments was estimated to be around two to three times higher than in indoor environments. Inhalation exposures for children 1-4 years old were estimated to be two to five times higher than for other age groups.

Future Considerations

  • Exposure to allergenic pollen has significant public health implications and that human exposure to aeroallergens is changing in response to our changing climate. At present, pollen monitoring is geographically and temporally limited and dependent on individual collectors, who often are unfunded and do not report data to a centralized network. A coordinated, national pollen monitoring network, incorporating and supporting both new and existing monitoring sites identified through an inventory of existing monitoring sites, and a freely accessible data repository should be a public health priority at the national, state, territory, tribal, and local levels. There are many potential uses for the data collected including public health surveillance, academic research, and near-term forecasting.
  • The development of an allergy alert system to provide warnings related to high pollen levels (similar to other particulates) to public health, medical, and individual stakeholders and outreach activities.


Journal Articles on this Report : 14 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 63 publications 16 publications in selected types All 14 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Bielory L, Lyons K, Goldberg R. Climate change and allergic disease. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports 2012;12(6):485-494. R834547 (2012)
R834547 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
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  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Blando J, Bielory L, Nguyen V, Diaz R, Jeng HA. Anthropogenic climate change and allergic diseases. Atmosphere 2012;3(1):200-212. R834547 (2011)
    R834547 (Final)
  • Full-text: Atmosphere-Full Text PDF
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  • Abstract: Atmosphere-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Dapul-Hidalgo G, Bielory L. Climate change and allergic diseases. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2012;109(3):166-172. R834547 (2011)
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  • Full-text: ResearchGate-Introduction & Full Text-PDF
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  • Abstract: AAA&I-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Efstathiou C, Isukapalli S, Georgopoulos P. A mechanistic modeling system for estimating large scale emissions and transport of pollen and co-allergens. Atmospheric Environment 2011;45(13):2260-2276. R834547 (2010)
    R834547 (Final)
    R832721 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Gleason JA, Bielory L, Fagliano JA. Associations between ozone, PM2.5, and four pollen types on emergency department pediatric asthma events during the warm season in New Jersey:a case-crossover study. Environmental Research 2014;132:421-429. R834547 (2013)
    R834547 (2014)
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  • Journal Article Hogrefe C, Isukapalli SS, Tang X, Georgopoulos PG, He S, Zalewsky EE, Hao W, Ku J-Y, Key T, Sistla G. Impact of biogenic emission uncertainties on the simulated response of ozone and fine particulate matter to anthropogenic emission reductions. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 2011;61(1):92-108. R834547 (2010)
    R834547 (Final)
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  • Abstract: Taylor & Francis-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Meng Q, Nagarajan S, Son Y, Koutsoupias P, Bielory L. Asthma, oculonasal symptoms, and skin test sensitivity across National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2016;116(2):118-125.e5. R834547 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
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  • Abstract: AAAI-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Singh K, Axelrod S, Bielory L. The epidemiology of ocular and nasal allergy in the United States, 1988-1994. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2010;126(4):778-783. R834547 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Zhang Y, Isukapalli SS, Bielory L, Georgopoulos PG. Bayesian analysis of climate change effects on observed and projected airborne levels of birch pollen. Atmospheric Environment 2013;68:64-73. R834547 (2011)
    R834547 (2012)
    R834547 (2014)
    R834547 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Zhang Y, Bielory L, Georgopoulos PG. Climate change effect on Betula (birch) and Quercus (oak) pollen seasons in the United States. International Journal of Biometeorology 2014;58(5):909-919. R834547 (2011)
    R834547 (2012)
    R834547 (2013)
    R834547 (2014)
    R834547 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Zhang Y, Bielory L, Mi Z, Cai T, Robock A, Georgopoulos P. Allergenic pollen season variations in the past two decades under changing climate in the United States. Global Change Biology 2015;21(4):1581-1589. R834547 (2012)
    R834547 (2013)
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    R834547 (Final)
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  • Abstract: Wiley-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Zhang Y, Bielory L, Cai T, Mi Z, Georgopoulos P. Predicting onset and duration of airborne allergenic pollen season in the United States. Atmospheric Environment 2015;103:297-306. R834547 (2012)
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  • Journal Article Ziska L, Knowlton K, Rogers C, Dalan D, Tierney N, Elder MA, Filley W, Shropshire J, Ford LB, Hedberg C, Fleetwood P, Hovanky KT, Kavanaugh T, Fulford G, Vrtis RF, Patz JA, Portnoy J, Coates F, Bielory L, Frenz D. Recent warming by latitude associated with increased length of ragweed pollen season in central North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2011;108(10):4248-4251. R834547 (2010)
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  • Abstract: PNAS-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Zuckerman O, Luster SH, Bielory L. Internet searches and allergy:temporal variation in regional pollen counts correlates with Google searches for pollen allergy related terms. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2014;113(4):486-488. R834547 (Final)
  • Abstract: AAAI-Abstract
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  • Other: ScienceDirect-First Page Preview
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  • Supplemental Keywords:

    aeroallergens, population exposure, climate change;, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, Health Risk Assessment, climate change, Risk Assessments, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, air quality modeling, ecosystem models, climatic influence, climate related morbidity, emissions impact, modeling, climate models, demographics, human exposure, regional climate model, ambient air pollution, Global Climate Change

    Relevant Websites:

    Department of Environmental Sciences | Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Exit
    Computational Chemodynamics Laboratory | Rutgers Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • 2014 Progress Report