Allergies set to rise with climate change
RISING temperatures could be driving an increase in allergies, among other health and occupational impacts, according to Australian scientists.
“There is no doubt that spring time is getting earlier each year and that includes the release of pollen into the atmosphere,” Associate Professor Paul Beggs, deputy head of the Department of Environment and Geography at Macquarie University, said ahead of this week’s National Climate Change Adaptation Conference in Melbourne.
Pollen and its potency has increased since pre-industrial levels due to rising levels of carbon dioxide, according to Professor Beggs, and will continue to increase, affecting people prone to allergies.
Professor Beggs recommended that municipal councils choose carefully where to plant allergy-causing plant species.
Climate change is likely to increasingly affect people’s working lives, experts told an Australian Science Media Centre online briefing.
By 2100, the number of days with temperatures higher than 35 degrees Celsius will triple in Melbourne, they estimated.
Hot temperatures will lead to work-related incidents, according to Dr Elizabeth Hanna (PhD) from the Australian National University's National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health.
“The problem is if you sweat up to maximum, you become dehydrated, and dehydration has the double whammy: it impairs your mental ability and so people can have poor judgment, particularly if they're using equipment and machinery, and [this] can increase accidents," Dr Hanna said.
She also warned that increased temperatures would cause mosquitoes to grow faster and bite more often, which meant they would be more likely to spread tropical diseases such as dengue and malaria.
“It’s really time that we did something about this major problem for Australia and many other parts of the world. It’s prudent that we respond to this important impact now,” Professor Beggs said.