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Allergies: More pollen due to climate change
There is no good news for allergy sufferers these days. Scientists predict that there will be more pollen in the future, the flight period of which is becoming longer and longer due to global warming. "Something is coming up to us," warns Jeroen Buters, Professor of Molecular Allergology at the Technical University (TU) Munich.
Scientists call for better pollen early warning system for allergy sufferers Scientists assume that in the medium term almost 50 percent of the population could be affected by allergies. Carsten Schmidt-Weber, director of the Center for Allergy and Environment, reported last Friday in Munich that there are already 20 million allergy sufferers in Germany. The scientists are now calling on politicians to take action. The pollen load will continue to increase in the next few years. This also includes an increasing number of food allergy sufferers. Until the 1950s, only two to five percent of the population had suffered from allergies. In England, one in two is already affected today.
Due to possible cross allergies, pollen allergy sufferers should be careful with pome and stone fruit. The European Foundation for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) in Berlin recommends heating the corresponding fruit before eating it. This would destroy the heat-sensitive allergens. Cross allergies occur because the allergens in fruit are very similar to those of birch pollen. Since the immune system could not tell the difference, it would react with the typical symptoms such as tingling and swelling in the mouth and throat area. In severe cases, there could even be life-threatening situations due to shortness of breath.
Schmidt-Weber explains that the complications of allergies, which include asthma, are also problematic. Jeroen Buters, Professor of Molecular Allergology at the Technical University (TU) Munich, confirms this and warns: “Something is approaching us. We need a better early warning system for pollen. ”Politicians are responsible for this, among other things, in order to counteract high consequential costs for the health system.
The researchers also report that the spread of the highly allergenic plant Ambrosia is a serious problem. "If we wait five to eight years, Bavaria will be infected," Buters explains. Ambrosia primarily spreads west along the motorways, adds Schmidt-Weber. He suspects that the seeds stick to the cars. Many federal states, but especially Berlin, would be affected by ragweed.
The period of pollen pollution is increasing due to global warming Annette Menzel, Professor of Ecoclimatology at the TU, explains that not only is the number of pollen increasing, but also the period in which the pollen is active is becoming longer and longer. She names global warming as the cause. “Overall, the flowering period is extended. Hazel blooms in December. “Even if the allergy-causing plants have faded, ambrosia would be added in many places, reports the expert. The amount of pollen has increased across Europe. This trend is exacerbated by climate change, Menzel said. The cause could be the increasing amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air. Studies have shown that plants that were exposed to an increased CO2 concentration grew quickly and formed more pollen.
Annette Menzel uses today's urban climate as an experimental field for future climate impacts. The city climate is already warmer and drier and has a higher level of air pollution. Urban areas are therefore particularly suitable as an “experimental field” for forecasting climate impacts. Here the temperature is one to three degrees higher due to the dense development and the formation of a so-called urban heat island, explains Menzel. The CO2 and pollutant levels in the air are also usually higher there. The conditions already prevail in urban areas today, which could also be expected in rural areas in the future, explains the expert.
According to a new study presented on Friday, the amount of pollen is probably not the decisive factor. Rather, it is the amount of allergens contained in the pollen that can vary greatly from pollen to pollen. It depends on the ripening time of the pollen and how long they "have time to pump themselves full of allergens," explains Buters. The scientists came to this conclusion during studies in eleven European countries. "Depending on the time and region, the pollen produces different amounts of protein compounds, which are ultimately responsible for the allergic immune response." (Ag)
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