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Worcester Scientists Contribute to Climate Change Report

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Scientists at the University of Worcester have contributed to a major report on Climate Change, published this week.

The Health Protection Agency report explores the risks to public health from climate change.

Professor Roy Kennedy and Dr Matt Smith, from the University’s National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU), carried out research into the ‘effects of aeroallergens on human health under climate change’.

They concluded that allergy sufferers could expect to see longer pollen seasons, starting earlier in the year, with more rapid symptom development due to an increased potency of aeroallergens associated with pollen and fungal spores. Climate change will also see more people exposed to more pollen from plants moving to new areas because the climate has become favourable.

The scientists have recommended in their report that invasive plants, such as ragweed, should be monitored and where possible contained; information supplied to healthcare professionals should be improved so that treatment of existing sufferers and clinical trials of remedies can be effectively planned for; and there should be better distribution of information on pollen and fungal spores to the public so sufferers can understand symptoms, manage their exposure and medication.

The study, Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2012, is an extensive update of earlier reports published by the Department of Health. The report, which uses the latest UK climate projections published in 2009, also includes a more detailed analysis of the effect rising temperatures will have on death rates in hot and cold spells.

Professor Roy Kennedy, Director of NPARU, said: “The Health Protection Agency in partnership with the Department of Health, published its original report on the Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK in 2002 and an update in 2008, with a further revision in 2012 which included aeroallergens (pollen grains and fungal spores).  As a centre of excellence for research on pollen it was fitting that NPARU was asked to contribute on this aspect to this prestigious report.”