35 Worst Cities For Allergies and Asthma

May 13, 2015

NRDC “”Sneezing and Wheezing Report” released today links climate change to allergies and asthma and lists the 35 major cities where people are exposed to both ragweed pollen and ozone smog. The most vulnerable regions are the Los Angeles Basin, the St. Louis area, the Great Lakes Region, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the NRDC report shows. The “double -whammy” threat from unhealthy ozone smog and ragweed pollen puts 109 million Americans at risk, bolstering federal curbs on carbon pollution that worsens smog and causes climate change according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report.iStock_000002743134Large

That’s one-in-three Americans lives in the “sneeziest and wheeziest” cities and regions for allergies and asthma where they may find it hard to breathe, the report released today finds. And they become more ill than those exposed to only ragweed or ozone pollution. The NRDC report, “Sneezing and Wheezing: How Climate Change Could Increase Ragweed Allergies, Air Pollution and Asthma,” is among the first to map the intersection of ragweed prevalence and high ozone smog, which can magnify respiratory allergies and asthma.

Allergies and asthma symptoms associated with ragweed pollen and ozone smog, scientific studies project, are expected to rise if carbon dioxide concentrations keep rising and climate change is unchecked. The NRDC report carries a dire warning for policymakers and the nation’s leaders: As climate change warms our planet, millions more Americans could become ill with potentially severe respiratory allergies and asthma.

So is your city on the 35 worst cities for allergies and asthma list?
1. Richmond, VA
2. Memphis, TN
3. Oklahoma City, OK
4. Philadelphia, PA
5. Chattanooga, TN
6. Chicago, IL
7. Detroit, MI
8. New Haven, CT
9. Allentown, PA
10. Atlanta, GA
11. Pittsburgh, PA
12. Louisville, IL
13. Springfield, MA
14. Milwaukee, WI
15. Dayton, OH
16. Cleveland, OH
17. Toledo, OH
18. Little Rock, AR
19. Bridgeport, CT
20. Akron, OH
21. Indianapolis, IN
22. Providence, RI
23. Cincinnati, OH
24. Wichita, KS
25. Harrisburg, PA
26. Nashville, TN
27. Hartford, CT
28. Phoenix, AZ
29. Knoxville, TN
30. Jackson, MS
31. Dallas, TX
32. Los Angeles, CA
33. Youngstown, OH
34. Columbus, OH
35. Orlando, FL

With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the instrumental record (dating to 1880) have all occurred since 2000, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The scientific consensus is that climate change, caused by carbon pollution, is pushing temperatures upward.

This is a health problem because warmer temperatures enhance the reactions that form ozone pollution. Ozone exposures irritate the lungs and can lead to lung inflammation, diminished lung function and worsen asthma symptoms.

With more carbon pollution in the air, ragweed produces more pollen in late summer and fall. In addition, other pollen-producing plants such as birch, oak and pine trees tend to produce pollen earlier in spring and for a longer time, studies show.

An estimated 50 million Americans today have some type of nasal allergy, the NRDC report notes. In 2012, an estimated 7.5 percent of adults and 9.0 percent of children were diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis (or hay fever), whose symptoms include inflammation and irritation of the nose, sinuses, throat, eyes, and ears as well as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.

At the same time, more Americans have asthma, 26 million in 2010, compared to 20 million in 2000.

What can you do to protect your family from pollen and ozone this summer?

  • Keep track of pollen counts in your area by following newspaper, radio, or television reports or checking online at www.aaaai.org/nab
  • On especially high pollen or ozone days during allergy season, put car and home air conditioners on recirculate, and keep doors and windows closed.
  • After working or playing outdoors, take a shower and wash your hair (or towel off with a damp cloth) to remove pollen, and change your clothes.
  • Try to save your most strenuous outdoor activities for days with relatively low ozone smog levels, or do them in the morning, when ozone levels are lower. Check online resources like www.airnow.gov for forecasts of local ozone conditions.
  • If you have allergies or asthma, see a medical professional. Take appropriate medication and precautions; consider wearing a filter mask before doing outdoor chores.

To read the full report visit http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/sneezing/contents.asp

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