Greens say climate change will worsen allergies, asthma

Greens say climate change will worsen allergies, asthma
© Thinkstock

A new report from an environmental group says that certain respiratory allergies and asthma will be exacerbated if climate change is allowed to continue unabated.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said Wednesday that its report is one of the first to tie the prevalence of ragweed pollen symptoms to climate change.

ADVERTISEMENT

It also repeats the NRDC’s earlier findings that the warmer temperatures from climate change will exacerbate asthma attacks.

The NRDC used the report to call for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to go big in its regulations to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and ground-level ozone pollution.

“Americans deserve to breathe clean air, but today millions of us are sneezing and wheezing from allergies and asthma worsened by climate change-fueled ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution,”, Juan Declet-Barreto, the primary author of the report, said in a statement.

“This double-whammy health threat will only intensify, and affect more people, if we don’t take steps to reduce climate change now,” he said. “For our health and future, the EPA should strengthen the health standard for ozone pollution and set strong limits on power plant carbon pollution.”

The NRDC said one in three Americans lives in the 35 worst metropolitan areas for asthma and allergies, which the group labeled the “sneeziest and wheeziest” areas, home to 109 million people.

People in those major cities “are more likely to suffer itchy eyes, runny noses and sneezing, and may find it hard to breathe, the report released today finds,” the group said. “And they become more ill than those exposed to only ragweed or ozone pollution.”

Energy In Depth, a project by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, has been fighting NRDC and the American Lung Association against their claims that reducing carbon and ozone would improve public health.

The group shot back against NRDC’s Wednesday report.

“Once again, NRDC is all tied up in knots trying to explain how cleaner air over the past thirty years leads to higher asthma rates,” said Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for the program.

“Simply put, they can’t,” he said. “Nevertheless they are making this argument in an attempt to support EPA regulations that will mean increased costs on consumers and put millions of people out of work.”

— This story was updated at 7:50 p.m.