Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Extended Allergy Season Now the Norm

Courtesy of Scientific American

A team of researchers has found that increased warming, particularly in the northern half of North America, has added weeks to the fall pollen season. Minneapolis has tacked 16 days to the ragweed pollen season since 1995. LaCrosse, Wisc. has added 13 days. Winnipeg and Saskatoon in Canada have added 25 and 27 days, respectively. The new research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds the longer pollen seasons correlate with the disproportionate warming happening around the planet and attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. Upper latitudes are warming faster than mid-latitudes, and the pollen season is lengthening in proportion.

According to the study's lead author and a plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's crop system and global change laboratory, "we are seeing a signal based on what in fact the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is predicting." The impact goes far beyond mere sniffles and inconvenience.

The National Wildlife Federation found ragweed growth rates and pollen counts increased with global warming. In one study, accelerating spring's arrival by 30 days prompted a 54 percent increase in ragweed pollen production. The danger with a lengthening season—and perhaps a more intense one—is pollen's potential to overwhelm immune systems. Much as water in a bathtub is not a problem until it starts to overflow, pollen for many is not an irritant until it crosses a particular threshold. "With the longer season, with the creeping breadth of the geographic footprint of the season, and with more powerful plants producing more pollen, it's a triple threat," the lead researcher added. "Now you've got yourself a much wider population that could potentially be affected that might not have been affected before.'

Bonnie - one way to counteract pollen overload is to plan ahead. If your have spring allergies (tree, mold, and grass), starting this week, get your list of spring allergy cross-reacting foods. Over the next 2-3 weeks, start to pare down your intake. As the height of the season hits, avoid the cross-reactors completely until it passes. To find this list, you can order our Conquering Allergy & Intolerance Action Plan at nutritionalconcepts.com or Amazon eBooks. For our NCI Well Connect Subscribers, this Action Plan is free (just email us to request a copy).

No comments: