Escalating Allergens and Asthma

Although global warming may help some crops and beneficial plants to grow, it also could spur the growth of harmful plants, such as those that produce allergic reactions in many people. Global warming is expected to produce higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and warmer temperatures. In addition, this warming will cause spring to arrive earlier in many locations, leading to a longer growing period. All these conditions, researchers say, are expected to cause common plants to produce more pollens and allergens—particles that cause many people, especially those who suffer from asthma, to sneeze, itch, and have trouble breathing. According to a recent study by Duke University scientists, in fact, the amount of pollen produced by the ragweed plant (a weed common to North America that is a major source of allergic reactions) is expected to more than double if carbon emissions continue to climb in the future. Researchers say that rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide will also likely fuel the growth of other opportunistic wild plants, including a more poisonous form of poison ivy.

Global warming may cause plants to produce more pollens and allergens.

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