Allergies may grow like weeds as Earth
Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service
Allergies and sniffling will be on the rise because of global
warming pollution that is also threatening the agriculture industry,
new research indicates.
Bringing together a series of recent studies, including work by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, a non-profit group of weed experts
said that the evidence justifies new policies and spending
priorities to protect the public.
The Weed Science Society of America has discovered a link between
allergies, global warming and their effects on the agriculture
The increased exposure to carbon dioxide emissions has resulted in
larger weeds that can grow faster and overtake other crops as well
as disperse more allergy-causing pollen in the air, according to
some of the latest research.
"A lot of people out there have hay fever and asthma and allergies,"
said Lee Van Wychen, director of science policy for the Weed Science
Society of America. "It's a very real problem. When you talk to any
type of organic farmer, their No. 1 issue in general . . . is weed
control, because they don't have a safe herbicide to apply."
One study also revealed that weeds in cities with warmer
temperatures and higher carbon dioxide concentrations could grow
four times larger than the weeds in rural areas, with as much as
four times the pollen. The weed experts argue that investing in
agricultural research now would bring high returns, while health
care networks and the agriculture industry risk significant losses
if they don't learn more about what the future could hold.
"This frankly should be a no-brainer, given what's happening," said
Lewis Ziska, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who
conducted the study. "You know what's happening with pine-bark
beetle in Western Canada. . . . Even though we know what's
happening, there isn't any effort at the moment to try and
synthesize this and to make projections for how much of an impact it
Other research has also suggested that increased carbon dioxide
concentrations can also lead to larger and more potent poison ivy
Public health experts in the Canadian government have acknowledged
the risk of stronger allergy seasons in the future. Areas that are
prone to drought, such as the prairies, would also be at risk of a
rise in respiratory illnesses because of higher concentrations of
dust particles in the air, a public health official warned in 2007.
ŠThe Calgary Herald 2008
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