Climate change and allergic disease

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Sep;122(3):443-53; quiz 454-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2008.06.032.


Climate change is potentially the largest global threat to human health ever encountered. The earth is warming, the warming is accelerating, and human actions are largely responsible. If current emissions and land use trends continue unchecked, the next generations will face more injury, disease, and death related to natural disasters and heat waves, higher rates of climate-related infections, and wide-spread malnutrition, as well as more allergic and air pollution-related morbidity and mortality. This review highlights links between global climate change and anticipated increases in prevalence and severity of asthma and related allergic disease mediated through worsening ambient air pollution and altered local and regional pollen production. The pattern of change will vary regionally depending on latitude, altitude, rainfall and storms, land-use patterns, urbanization, transportation, and energy production. The magnitude of climate change and related increases in allergic disease will be affected by how aggressively greenhouse gas mitigation strategies are pursued, but at best an average warming of 1 to 2 degrees C is certain this century. Thus, anticipation of a higher allergic disease burden will affect clinical practice as well as public health planning. A number of practical primary and secondary prevention strategies are suggested at the end of the review to assist in meeting this unprecedented public health challenge.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution
  • Allergens*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Climate*
  • Disaster Planning
  • Environmental Health
  • Greenhouse Effect*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Incidence
  • Pollen
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health


  • Allergens