Climate Change and Respiratory Health

Current Evidence and Knowledge Gaps

Tim K Takaro; Kim Knowlton; John R Balmes


Expert Rev Resp Med. 2013;7(4):349-361. 

In This Article

Understanding Combined Effects

Laboratory and epidemiologic studies have shown that air pollutants harm lung function in patients with allergic asthma; and that pollutant-induced damage to mucociliary clearance and airway inflammation can exacerbate the effects of inhaled aeroallergens.[112] The combined health effects of air pollutants like O3, PM and pollens are challenging to study, in part because there are relatively few monitoring sites in the US at which daily measurements are made from stations with co-located sensors for pollen, ozone, and particulate matter,and associated health outcomes, on comparable time and spatial scales. Meteorological data and information on changes in land-use that can affect pollen production are also needed to fully understand climate-environment-health relationships. Efforts to model and understand these complex relationships will need to account for human vulnerability factors (age, pre-existing chronic disease, etc.); whether local communities have early warning systems, local monitoring networks, or preparedness plans in place; and whether health-relevant local pollen concentration thresholds exist.