15:49 11 September 2012
In a new report, climate change has been linked with an extended pollen season which is bad news for hay fever sufferers.
Those affected will now also have to combat highly allergenic new strains from invasive plants, a study published on Tuesday confirmed.
The report, from the Health Protection Agency (HPA), set to examine the link between climate change and overall health.
The researchers uncovered that global warming will cause earlier flowering. This is likely to extend the hay fever season by six weeks. During this time, the researchers suggest, new species will be able to grow in the UK. In addition, pollen is now becoming a stronger force and has better conditions to pack more allergen into each grain.
"There is no doubt that climate change poses a wide range of challenges to public health in the UK," said David Heymann, chairman of the HPA whose report also examined other risks including floods, heat waves, food poisoning risks and mosquito-carried diseases.
Heymann elaborated: "From increased risks of heat waves through to potentially greater exposure to air pollution, indoors and outdoors, and potential changes to established pollen seasons, there are many issues all of which need further research and attention if we are to adapt to, or mitigate the effects.
"We are confident that this report will provide all Government departments with the further information they need to properly prioritise areas for future work and protect the UK public from the significant looming health challenges that climate change presents."
However, there is an upside to the findings. The number of deaths caused by cold winter weather will decrease.
Our increasing awareness of the effects of climate change is also good for our health as people and companies make more of an effort to burn less fossil fuels and also change their diet and exercise plans towards vegetarian foods over meat and cycling/walking over driving.
Yet, it's the hay fever link that is getting the most attention after the study was published. One in five people currently suffers from it.
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