Science Inventory

Estimates of Present and Future Asthma Emergency Department Visits Associated With Exposure to Oak, Birch, and Grass Pollen in the United States

Citation:

Estimates of Present and Future Asthma Emergency Department Visits Associated With Exposure to Oak, Birch, and Grass Pollen in the United States. GeoHealth. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, 3:11-27. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GH000153

Impact/Purpose:

This paper extends the methods and results developed and reported by Anenberg et al. (2017) to include birch and grass pollen, in addition to oak pollen, and the entire continental United States. Both efforts were conducted as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) ongoing Climate change Impacts and Risk Analysis project, specifically found in the Multi‐Model Framework for Quantitative Sectoral Impacts Analysis—A Technical Report for the Fourth National Climate Assessment (U.S. EPA, 2017a).

Description:

Pollen is an important environmental cause of allergic asthma episodes. Prior work has established a proof of concept for assessing projected climate change impacts on future oak pollen exposure and associated health impacts. This paper uses additional monitor data and epidemiologic functions to extend prior analyses, reporting new estimates of the current and projected future health burden of oak, birch, and grass pollen across the contiguous United States. Our results suggest that tree pollen in the spring currently accounts for between 25,000 and 50,000 pollen‐related asthma emergency department (ED) visits annually (95% confidence interval: 14,000 to 100,000), roughly two thirds of which occur among people under age 18. Grass pollen in the summer season currently accounts for less than 10,000 cases annually (95% confidence interval: 4,000 to 16,000). Compared to a baseline with 21st century population growth but constant pollen, future temperature and precipitation show an increase in ED visits of 14% in 2090 for a higher greenhouse gas emissions scenario, but only 8% for a moderate emissions scenario, reflecting projected increases in pollen season length. Grass pollen, which is more sensitive to changes in climatic conditions, is a primary contributor to future ED visits, with the largest effects in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southern Great Plains regions. More complete assessment of the current and future health burden of pollen is limited by the availability of data on pollen types (e.g., ragweed), other health effects (e.g., other respiratory disease), and economic consequences (e.g., medication costs).

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT ( JOURNAL/ PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 12/15/2018
Record Last Revised: 05/15/2019
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 344774