Asthma Triggers on the Rise
May 03, 2016
Nick Bradford

Did You Know?

  • Asthma is the leading chronic disease in children
  • 7.5% of children in the US have asthma, 2.3% are Black or of Hispanic origin.
  • Dampness and mold in US homes are linked to approximately 4.6 million cases of worsened asthma.
  • The expected economic of burden of Asthma over the next 20 years is US$300 Billion. 

The blanket of heat trapping gasses associated with a changing climate disrupts many of the interconnected systems in our environment, including the air we breathe. Increased temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, increased indoor molds, and greenhouse gases affect human health, in particular asthma development and exacerbation, through increasing pollen concentrations, extending pollen seasons, and reducing air quality.

Allergies and Asthma

Shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns alter the production, allergenicity, distribution, and timing of airborne allergens which contribute to the occurrence of asthma episodes. Airborne allergens include tree, grass, and ragweed pollen; indoor and outdoor molds; and animal dander, dust mites, and cockroaches. Asthma cases associated with allergies tend to vary depending on geography and demographics, however, the very young, those with compromised immune systems, and the medically uninsured bear the brunt.

Decreased Air Quality and Asthma

A changing climate makes common air pollutants more widespread and more severe through increased extreme weather events and concentrations of greenhouse gases. An increase in extreme temperatures and precipitation can lead to increased humidity and mold growth indoors, and more frequent droughts and wildfires can result in exposure to more smoke, dust, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Greenhouse gases that contribute to a changing climate also have the potential to increase ozone levels and concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which are associated with the development and worsening of asthma. Populations exposed to ozone air pollution are at greater risk of suffering from asthma attacks and PM2.5 is associated with serious chronic and acute health effects. Studies have found that changes in both PM2.5 and ozone levels due to climate change will be drivers of air quality-related health effects in the future.

What You Can Do

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