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emissions of DEHP, a phthalate, from PVC wallpaper (Hsu et al. 2017). Older people are vulnerable, especially those living alone, as well as people with allergies or asthma, and those who are socio-economically vulnerable (Vardoulakis et al. 2015). 3.9 Allergy The prevalence of allergic respiratory and skin diseases within the general population in Europe has been estimated at 40% and has increased dramatically over the past decades. This includes allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (pollen allergies) and asthma (although not all asthma is allergic). Climate change has been suggested as one factor accounting for the increasing prevalence of allergic disease. However, the influence of climate change and increased CO2 is complex in affecting the range of allergic species as well as the timing and length of the pollen season and pollen productivity, also affecting the release and atmospheric distribution of pollen. It is not only the classical climatic variables that influence the pollen season. In several experiments that included the most allergenic pollen taxa such as ragweed and grass, it was demonstrated that increasing CO2 concentrations stimulate plant growth and increase pollen production (see, for example, Singer et al. 2005; literature review by Menzel

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and Jochner 2016). One effect of extreme weather is the occurrence of thunderstorm-associated asthma (systematic review by Dabera et al. 2013) whereby an increase in humidity causes fragmentation of pollen, thus enabling it to penetrate into small airways of the lung. A quantitative case study of the potential effect of climate change upon pollen allergy focused on common ragweed using two GHG scenarios, RCPs 4.5 and 8.5, and different plant invasion scenarios (Lake et al. 2017) (see Figure 3.6). This modelling indicates that sensitisation to ragweed will more than double in Europe by 2041–2060 (77 million people). Sensitisation will increase in countries with existing ragweed problems, for example Hungary and the Balkans, but the greatest proportional increases will occur where sensitisation is currently uncommon, for example Germany, Poland and France. Climate, air pollution and aeroallergens interact in a variety of ways. Several studies have shown an influence of air pollution on the allergen content of pollen grains and an increased health risk for allergic diseases, especially in areas with high traffic emissions (see, for example, Kinney et al. 2016). Thus, a reduction in air pollution as an effect of climate change mitigation (see Chapter 4) could also be a co-benefit for people suffering from allergies.

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Figure 3.6  Percentage of population sensitised to ragweed pollen at baseline and in the future; averaged results for WRF/RegCM and CHIMERE, RCP4.5, and reference invasion scenario (Lake et al. 2017). © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries.

26  |  June 2019  |  Climate change and health

EASAC

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...

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