Background: The potential effects of global climate change on allergenic pollen production are still poorly understood.
Objective: To study the direct impact of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations on ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) pollen production and growth.
Methods: In environmentally controlled greenhouses, stands of ragweed plants were grown from seed through flowering stages at both ambient and twice-ambient CO2 levels (350 vs 700 microL L(-1)). Outcome measures included stand-level total pollen production and end-of-season measures of plant mass, height, and seed production.
Results: A doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration stimulated ragweed-pollen production by 61% (P = 0.005).
Conclusions: These results suggest that there may be significant increases in exposure to allergenic pollen under the present scenarios of global warming. Further studies may enable public health groups to more accurately evaluate the future risks of hay fever and respiratory diseases (eg, asthma) exacerbated by allergenic pollen, and to develop strategies to mitigate them.