Are We Allergic to Climate Change?

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As climate change becomes more and more apparent, so do the catastrophic effects on our planet. Now, scientists are saying that the amount of nitrogen oxides (NO2) being released into the atmosphere are having an effect on the allergenic level of pollen in the atmosphere.

According to Nature World News, researchers from Helmoltz Zentrum M√ľnchen studied ragweed (belonging to the Ambrosia genus) and fumigated it with large concentrations of NO2. After spraying the plants, researchers found that they contained higher concentrations of allergens.

In addition to the higher concentrations, the study found that the pollen from the plants sprayed with NO2 were far better at binding with a specific antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is one of the classes of antibodies that is associated with the main cause of allergic reactions.

When the IgE molecule binds to an allergen, histamine is released in turn. As we all know, histamine is what triggers that first fateful sneeze. While there are several remedies to help those who suffer from seasonal allergies, ranging from medications to the use of air conditioning, anyone who starts sneezing when ragweed makes an appearance would prefer not to experience allergies in the first place.

In a press release sharing the study’s results, study leader Dr. Ulrike Frank reported: “Ultimately, it can be expected that the already aggressive Ambrosia pollen will become even more allergenic in the future due to air pollution”.

NO2 is typically emitted from car exhaust. Interestingly enough, the Ambrosia species found on the side of highways tend to be more allergenic, the press release reported.

Dr. Frank added, “Since in nature and along roads hundreds of parameters could play a role, until now the situation was not entirely clear.”

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