Synthesis and conclusion

Paul J. Beggs, Lewis H. Ziska

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Introduction Allergic diseases result from complex interactions between genes and environment. Environmental factors that are known to initiate and/or exacerbate allergic disorders, particularly allergic respiratory diseases, include exposure to pollen, fungi, and pollutants (Kim and Bernstein, 2009; Tham et al., 2014; Traidl-Hoffmann et al., 2003). Thus, pollen and fungal spore production and distribution have a major impact on incidence, severity, and pattern of allergic respiratory symptoms. Previous chapters have detailed the many changes that have occurred, and are likely to occur, as a consequence of our changing climate; these changes impact on all living organisms, changing their physiology and distribution. Climate change will influence aeroallergen sensitivity in many ways; evidence exists for an impact on expression of allergenic proteins within pollen grains; some plants at least will respond to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels with increased pollen production (Singer et al., 2005; Ziska and Caulfield, 2000). Expected changes in rainfall patterns will result in greater rainfall in some regions with consequent increase in vegetation, while in other regions, decreased precipitation will result in loss of vegetation and decrease in aeroallergen exposure. Indeed, changes along these lines are already evident and changes in aeroallergen distribution have already been reported (Settele et al., 2014; Storkey et al., 2014). An increase in extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones (hurricanes), thunderstorms, and dust storms are projected based on various climate change scenarios. There is existing evidence that these events have significant impact on the initiation and exacerbation of allergic respiratory disease (D’Amato and Cecchi, 2008). Various atmospheric pollutants are increasing and, without mitigation, will continue to do so (Smith et al., 2014). This is the result of increasing urbanisation and industrialisation on a vast scale as is occurring in China and other emerging nations. Continued growth in vehicular traffic volumes results in increase in particulate pollutants, especially diesel exhaust particles (DEPs). Pollutants have complex and diverse influences on allergic respiratory diseases. Evidence exists that exposure to various particulate and gaseous pollutants increases inflammatory processes in the human airway leading to impairment of lung development in young children and initiation of asthma. Asthma exacerbations and increased numbers of presentations to emergency departments (ED) are also documented in relation to increases in pollutant levels. A number of reviews have explored these many issues in depth (Beggs, 2004; Cecchi et al., 2010; Reid and Gamble, 2009; Shea et al., 2008; Weber, 2012).

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationImpacts of climate change on allergens and allergic diseases
    EditorsPaul J. Beggs
    Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Electronic)9781107272859
    ISBN (Print)9781107048935
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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