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EFA - More Europeans allergic to pollen if no measure is taken to reduce exposure

Allergy which is the most common chronic disease in Europe, with 20 percent prevalence in the population, has been neglected to date because patients have been coping with their symptoms, even if severe, without much support.

Allergic symptoms are set to worsen due to climate change, as air pollution increases the aggressiveness of pollen particles and extends the reproductive season of plants. If no action is taken to stop the allergy epidemic, 1 in 2 Europeans will suffer from allergy by 2025 with no age, social or geographical distinction.

Ragweed is one of the main plants making our body react negatively, costing Europe alone 3.5 billion Euro per year on medication to ease the allergic symptoms it provokes. Air concentrations of allergenic ragweed pollen could quadruple in Europe by 2050. Health problems due to ragweed are underestimated.

EU legislation excludes pollen monitoring as pollen is not considered a result of human activities. Although pollen emissions and aggressiveness are mostly a consequence of massive farming, air pollution, and city planning, the EU does not require Member States to collect this information and communicate it to the public. European measures to control human-made pollen emissions seem unrealistic.

This is problematic as highly allergenic trees are often planted close to people’s homes and school and pollen emissions and their interaction with human activities are not taken into account when planning. Data needs to be collected in order to take informed decisions to protect health from pollen emissions.

European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) President Christine Rolland says: “Allergy is not a trivial disease. It imposes a burden on healthcare systems and patients. Setting up a real-time pollen information system in Europe would enable patients to take daily actions to avoid their symptoms getting worse, diminishing their impact on productivity”.

More information available here

Originally posted on 13 July 2015

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


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