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Millions of Europeans will experience new waves of hay fever due to climate change
According to a current study, climate change could "trigger a new wave of hay fever for millions of people" in the future, according to the latest announcement from MedUni Vienna. The number of people suffering from hay fever due to ragweed pollen (ragweed, ragweed) will double in just 35 years - from the current 33 to 77 million, according to the result of an EU research project with the significant collaboration of scientists from the MedUni Vienna.
In the recently published report on the FP7-EU project "Atopica", a drastic increase in pollen pollution is predicted in the course of climate change. This will trigger a new wave of hay fever among "millions of people across Europe", according to MedUni Vienna. According to the researchers, climate change is responsible for two thirds of the increase in ragweed pollen levels. “Higher ragweed pollen concentrations and a longer ragweed pollen season can also increase the severity of the symptoms,” the scientists explain.
77 million people affected in the future
Ragweed is spreading more and more in Germany as a result of climate change. According to the researchers, the pollen is a "widespread allergen" and "a single plant can produce about a billion pollen grains per season." As part of the research project, the scientists "created maps with the estimated ragweed pollen counts during the pollen season and included them combined the data, such as where people live and how severe the allergy burden in the population is, ”reports MedUni Vienna. It shows that the number of people affected will most likely more than double from 33 million to 77 million by 2050.
Public health problem
"Ragweed pollen allergy is becoming a public health problem across Europe and is spreading to areas where this is rarely the case at present," emphasizes Michelle Epstein, Atopica coordinator at MedUni Vienna. The doctor from the University Clinic for Dermatology at the MedUni Vienna warns of the consequences for allergy sufferers. "Hay fever is an allergic condition that affects around 40 percent of Europeans at some point in their lives," according to MedUni Vienna. Affected people are allergic to certain pollen such as tree pollen, grass pollen or herb pollen. Itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, cough and shortness of breath are typical consequences. Those affected also often feel tired and tired. Asthma may also develop as a result of pollen allergy
Effects of climate change on pollen allergy examined for the first time
"Pollen allergy is a major problem in public health worldwide, and it is not yet known exactly how climate change will affect it," summarize the scientists at MedUni Vienna. The current research project is "the first study to estimate the effects of climate change on pollen allergy." The potential effects on the spread of ragweed plants, plant productivity, pollen production and spread were examined. On the other hand, the researchers checked the effects of this on allergies in Europe.
Pollen season until mid-October
"The problem may worsen in countries with an existing ragweed problem, such as Hungary and Croatia, but also in Germany, Poland and France," reports Michelle Epstein of the study results. The increasing pollen concentrations and a longer ragweed pollen season will also increase the severity of the symptoms. According to current forecasts, the ragweed season in most parts of Europe will last from mid-September to mid-October.
Massive costs of allergy diseases
The scientists also point out the costs associated with allergy diseases: "The annual economic burden in the EU is currently estimated at 55 to 151 billion euros, an increasing pollen burden will cause even higher costs," said Epstein . Proper “management” of this invasive plant could reduce the number of people affected by it to around 52 million, the expert continues. With an uncontrolled, very rapid spread of plant invasion, the number of people affected could increase to about 107 million. The control of ragweed is therefore extremely important for the public health system and also essential as an adaptation strategy against the effects of climate change.
According to Michelle Epstein, it should also be borne in mind that "the effects of climate change are not limited to ragweed and that a whole range of other pollen-producing plant species may also be affected." The current research project offers a good framework for other studies, "the investigate the effects of climate change on pollen allergy in other plant species. ”(fp)