Oak and ragweed pollens are two of the most prevalent allergies in the contiguous United States. Researchers at the Rutgers Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute have modeled how climate change could affect the distribution patterns of these two pollen types.
The results, which were published in the journal Frontiers in Allergy, may cause your eyes to moisten. As per Business Insider, research led by Panos Georgopoulos, professor of Environmental and Occupational Health and Justice at the Rutgers School of Public Health, predicts that by 2050, airborne pollen loads will increase dramatically due to climate change. Some of the greatest increases will take place in areas where the pollen was historically rare.
“Pollen is an excellent indicator of the effects of climate change because changes in variables such as carbon dioxide and temperature influence how plants behave,” said Georgopoulos, who is also the director of the Computational Chemodynamics Laboratory at Rutgers and a professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Climate change has led to an increase in both pollen output and pollen’s influence on allergic disease, and this is one of the few studies to predict this trend in the future.
Previous attempts to correlate pollen indices with climate change were hampered by a lack of data. In the United States, for instance, there are approximately 80 pollen sampling stations managed by a range of private and public institutions employing various sample techniques.
To address this obstacle, the researchers updated the Community Multiscale Air Quality modelling system, an open-source tool controlled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to predict pollen distributions under historical (2004) and future (2047) conditions.
Even under mild warming conditions, the pollen season will begin earlier and persist longer across the United States, with increased average pollen concentrations in most regions. In the Northeast and Southwest, oak pollen concentrations might increase by more than 40 percent, while ragweed concentrations could increase by more than 20 percent.
Additionally, regional pollen shifts were found. Oak pollen levels could double in regions of Nevada and northern Texas by mid-century, while ragweed pollen levels could climb by 80 percent in Massachusetts and Virginia by 2050.
The pollen research was conducted as part of an ongoing initiative by the Rutgers Ozone Research Center, which is financed by the EPA and the state of New Jersey, to examine how climate change would affect the state’s air quality. The majority of this article explores the state’s battles with ground-level ozone, a lung-damaging consequence of fossil fuel combustion.
“Climate change will have a negative influence on New Jersey’s air quality, both in terms of anthropogenic pollution and increasing pollen counts,” Georgopoulos said. “Pollen and irritants such as ozone enhance the likelihood of respiratory disease in asthmatics. To safeguard the most vulnerable, we must comprehend the behavior of these irritants in a warming world.”