World Allergy Week 2016

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April 4th – 10th is World Allergy Week. This annual event is an initiative of the World Allergy Organisation (WAO). This year the theme is the effect of climate change on pollen and mold allergies.

Every spring time the news is full of articles declaring it to be the worst allergy season ever. Can it really be true? Unfortunately it is. According to the WAO, global warming influences not only the start, length and intensity of the pollen season, but also the allergenicity of the pollen. The ragweed plant is a particular culprit. One study found that ragweed pollen production increased in response to rising CO2 levels.

Pollen gets most of the headlines, but the potential influence of climate change on mold exposures is also concerning. There is limited evidence that, like pollen, increased CO2 levels and rising temperatures can affect the onset and duration of the spore season for molds such as Alternaria alternata. The greater frequency of storms and floods associated with climate change could also lead to an increased number of buildings with damp and mold issues.

This is the sixth year of the WAO’s World Allergy Week initiative. The themes of previous years included the global public health concern of allergic diseases (2011) and the human and economic burden of airway allergies (2015). Visit the WAO website for more information on how you can participate. Resources on the website include a recording of the WAO webinar on Pollen Allergies in a Changing Climate.


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