About 40% of Americans live in areas where unhealthy levels of smog and ragweed pollen – linked to climate change – combine to threaten respiratory health and can lead to COPD and bronchial asthma, the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a report.
About one hundred twenty-seven million Americans live where ambrosia and ozone can threaten their health. This situation will only get worse if climate change cannot be addressed in the near term. Climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal is exacerbating ozone pollution and extending the ragweed season.
In late summer and early fall, ragweed pollen is now present in the air for almost a month longer in many parts of the United States than it was twenty years ago, and this trend is likely to continue.
Smog is generated on warm, sunny days and is exacerbated by chemicals from vehicle exhaust as well as from power plants and industrial chimneys. It worsens respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The condition of people with allergies may worsen, especially in children. In addition, air pollution from smog and allergens not only affects the lungs, but also affects the brain, heart and skin.
For this report, ragweed was chosen instead of other sources of pollen such as trees and grass because more people react to it more. In addition, ragweed appears in late summer when temperatures, and therefore smog levels, are at their highest.
The report focuses on the fifteen worst jurisdictions and areas where smog and pollen are particularly bad. The key bottleneck is Washington, DC. The authors believe that government at the national and local levels should work to increase the use of clean energy and reduce smog.