Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Analysis: Ragweed, smog pack a one-two punch for Ohio

Ragweed can exacerbate asthma symptoms,
and Ohio has plenty of it. (f99aq8ove/Flickr
By Mary Kuhlman
Ohio News Connection

A new analysis ranks Ohio high on the list of areas where smog and pollen combine to threaten respiratory health.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's mapping project puts the Buckeye State at number six, for the percentage of the population subject to the "double whammy" of smog and ragweed pollen.

According to Kim Knowlton, senior scientist at NRDC, the production of ozone, which irritates the lungs, is accelerated by the warmer temperatures caused by carbon pollution.

Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air also have a direct impact on allergy sufferers.

"Ragweed loves it," she states. "Ragweed grows more lush, more profuse and, unfortunately, it produces significantly more pollen."

The report says nearly 70 percent of Ohioans live in counties with high concentrations of ozone smog and pollen. And 900,000 Ohio adults and 180,000 children suffer from asthma.

Knowlton says there are steps people can take to reduce exposure to the allergens.

"And if it's a really high pollen day, save your outdoor activity for a day later in the week when conditions are better," she advises. "When you come indoors, you can take a damp washcloth and towel off your hair, launder your clothes, so that you're not breathing the pollen indoors as well."

Knowlton adds that asthma and allergies combined lead to more sick days, higher medical costs, and increased heart problems and premature deaths each year.

She points out that, despite moves by the Trump administration and Congress to roll back regulations that cut carbon emissions, those efforts are continuing.

"A number of states are already reducing their carbon pollution by using more energy efficiency, burning fewer fossil fuels and moving toward cleaner energy sources," she explains.

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