Ragweed, plant native to North America is responsible for highly allergenic attacks and its spread is boosted by global warming, according to a new study.
The pesky invasive plant that triggers allergy attacks spread from its indigenous North America to Europe in the 1960s and is quickly gaining ground. Warmer climates are preferred by ragweed.
The study conducted by the Laboratory of the Sciences of Climate and the Environment from Gif sur Yvette in France focused on computer simulations that integrated global warming trends due to climate change and the spread of Ambrosia Artemisiifolia, as the weed is also known.
Results showed that under certain scenarios the ragweed pollen concentrations, that cause the allergy attacks are likely to increase four times by 2050, posing serious concerns for medical care.
The previewed increases incidence is likely to happen in the north-center of Europe, as well as northern France and the south of England. As ragweed is drawn to warmer climates, at this point it is quite scarce in these areas.
The alarm signal drawn by the simulation indicates that proportionally with the speed of dispersal, the ragweed pollen concentration could increase up to 12 times in locations were ragweed is already gaining ground.
For the UK ragweed does not pose an imminent threat as of yet, but by mid-century the pollen dispersal could inflict higher levels of hay-fever in the population. Ragweed pollen is causing severe allergenic reactions.
Furthermore, it is responsible for prolonging the hay-fever season from summer all throughout autumn as it is a known high-volume pollen producer. One ragweed plant alone is able to generate one billion pollen grains every season.
To add to the difficulty of the problem, it is worth noting that ragweed doesn’t succumb to the hardship of winter. Its pollen is sufficiently resilient to survive and travel with the wind during this season as well.
The University of Leicester recorded windborne pollen levels in the East Midlands sufficiently high to induce significant hay-fever attacks.
Compared to grass, ragweed is a significantly more powerful allergy trigger. Experts suggest that an increase rate of pollen levels could pose a serious public health problem.
The study that was published in the journal Nature Climate Change concluded that although ragweed pollen is not an imminent threat at the moment, climate change and implicitly global warming are quite likely to turn it into one.
Image Source: nebraskaradionetwork.com
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