Facebook: World Allergy Organization
Twitter: World Allergy Organization
LinkedIn: World Allergy Organization
Instagram: World Allergy Organization
Back to Top

Climate Change and Biodiversity

D’Amato, Gennaro; Vitale, Carolina; Lanza, Maurizia; Molino, Antonio; D’Amato, Maria.
Climate change, air pollution, and allergic respiratory diseases: an update.
Current Opinion in Allergy & Clinical Immunology: October 2016 - Volume 16 - Issue 5 - p 434–440

WAO Committee’s reasons for recommending:

Climate change and air pollution affects allergic respiratory diseases

The article outlines changes in the environment that can explain the rising  prevalence of allergic respiratory disease  observed over the last decades


Purpose of review: The rising trend in prevalence of allergic respiratory disease and bronchial asthma, observed over the last decades, can be explained by changes occurring in the environment, with increasing presence of biologic, such as allergens, and chemical atmospheric trigger factors able to stimulate the sensitization and symptoms of these diseases.

Recent findings: Many studies have shown changes in production, dispersion, and allergen content of pollen and spores because of climate change with an increasing effect of aeroallergens on allergic patients.

Summary: Over the last 50 years, global earth's temperature has markedly risen likely because of growing emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Major changes involving the atmosphere and the climate, including global warming induced by human activity, have a major impact on the biosphere and human environment.

Urbanization and high levels of vehicle emissions are correlated to an increase in the frequency of pollen-induced respiratory allergy prevalent in people who live in urban areas compared with those who live in rural areas. Measures of mitigation need to be applied for reducing future impacts of climate change on our planet, but until global emissions continue to rise, adaptation to the impacts of future climate variability will also be required.

D’Amato, Gennaro, et al.
"Meteorological conditions, climate change, new emerging factors, and asthma and related allergic disorders. A statement of the World Allergy Organization." 
World Allergy Organization Journal 8.1 (2015): 25.

WAO Committee’s reasons for recommending:

This statement of the World Allergy Organization (WAO) raises the importance and impact of climate changes and meteorological conditions on allergic respiratory diseases and include recommendations regarding these issues


The prevalence of allergic airway diseases such as asthma and rhinitis has increased dramatically to epidemic proportions worldwide. Besides air pollution from industry derived emissions and motor vehicles, the rising trend can only be explained by gross changes in the environments where we live. The world economy has been transformed over the last 25 years with developing countries being at the core of these changes. Around the planet, in both developed and developing countries, environments are undergoing profound changes. Many of these changes are considered to have negative effects on respiratory health and to enhance the frequency and severity of respiratory diseases such as asthma in the general population.

Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, and especially carbon dioxide (CO2), in the atmosphere have already warmed the planet substantially, causing more severe and prolonged heat waves, variability in temperature, increased air pollution, forest fires, droughts, and floods – all of which can put the respiratory health of the public at risk. These changes in climate and air quality have a measurable impact not only on the morbidity but also the mortality of patients with asthma and other respiratory diseases. The massive increase in emissions of air pollutants due to economic and industrial growth in the last century has made air quality an environmental problem of the first order in a large number of regions of the world. A body of evidence suggests that major changes to our world are occurring and involve the atmosphere and its associated climate. These changes, including global warming induced by human activity, have an impact on the biosphere, biodiversity, and the human environment. Mitigating this huge health impact and reversing the effects of these changes are major challenges.

This statement of the World Allergy Organization (WAO) raises the importance of this health hazard and highlights the facts on climate-related health impacts, including: deaths and acute morbidity due to heat waves and extreme meteorological events; increased frequency of acute cardio-respiratory events due to higher concentrations of ground level ozone; changes in the frequency of respiratory diseases due to trans-boundary particle pollution; altered spatial and temporal distribution of allergens (pollens, molds, and mites); and some infectious disease vectors. According to this report, these impacts will not only affect those with current asthma but also increase the incidence and prevalence of allergic respiratory conditions and of asthma. The effects of climate change on respiratory allergy are still not well defined, and more studies addressing this topic are needed. Global warming is expected to affect the start, duration, and intensity of the pollen season on the one hand, and the rate of asthma exacerbations due to air pollution, respiratory infections, and/or cold air inhalation, and other conditions on the other hand.

Additional Articles of Interest:

D'amato, Gennaro, et al. "Climate change, migration, and allergic respiratory diseases: an update for the allergist." World Allergy Organization Journal 4.7 (2011): 121.

Barnes, Charles S., et al. "Climate change and our environment: the effect on respiratory and allergic disease." The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice 1.2 (2013): 137-141.

Shea, Katherine M., et al. "Climate change and allergic disease." Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 122.3 (2008): 443-453.

Beggs, Paul J. "Adaptation to impacts of climate change on aeroallergens and allergic respiratory diseases." International journal of environmental research and public health 7.8 (2010): 3006-3021.

Cecchi, L., et al. "Projections of the effects of climate change on allergic asthma: the contribution of aerobiology." Allergy 65.9 (2010): 1073-1081.

D'amato, G., and L. Cecchi. "Effects of climate change on environmental factors in respiratory allergic diseases." Clinical & Experimental Allergy 38.8 (2008): 1264-1274.

D'Amato, Gennaro, et al. "Urban air pollution and climate change as environmental risk factors of respiratory allergy: an update." Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology 20.2 (2010): 95-102.

Ziska, Lewis H., and Paul J. Beggs. "Anthropogenic climate change and allergen exposure: the role of plant biology." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 129.1 (2012): 27-32.

Bielory, Leonard, Kevin Lyons, and Robert Goldberg. "Climate change and allergic disease." Current allergy and asthma reports 12.6 (2012): 485-494.