Allergo Journal International

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 17–23 | Cite as

Climate change and air pollution

Effects on pollen allergy and other allergic respiratory diseases
  • Gennaro D’Amato
  • Karl Christian Bergmann
  • Lorenzo Cecchi
  • Isabella Annesi-Maesano
  • Alessandro Sanduzzi
  • Gennaro Liccardi
  • Carolina Vitale
  • Anna Stanziola
  • Maria D’Amato
Review article


The observational evidence indicates that recent regional changes in climate, particularly temperature increases, have already affected a diverse set of physical and biological systems in many parts of the world. Allergens patterns are also changing in response to climate change and air pollution can modify the allergenic potential of pollen grains especially in the presence of specific weather conditions.

Although genetic factors are important in the development of asthma and allergic diseases, their rising trend can be explained only by changes occurring in the environment and urban air pollution by motor vehicles has been indicated as one of the major risk factors responsible for this increase.

Despite some differences in the air pollution profile and decreasing trends of some key air pollutants, air quality is an important concern for public health in the cities throughout the world.

Due to climate change, air pollution patterns are changing in several urbanized areas of the world with a significant effect on respiratory health. The underlying mechanisms of all these interactions are not well known yet. The consequences on health vary from decreases in lung function to allergic diseases, new onset of diseases, and exacerbation of chronic respiratory diseases. In addition, it is important to recall that an individual’s response to pollution exposure depends on the source and components of air pollution, as well as meteorological conditions. Indeed, some air pollution-related incidents with asthma aggravation do not depend only on the increased production of air pollution, but rather on atmospheric factors that favor the accumulation of air pollutants at ground level.

Associations between thunderstorms and asthma morbidity of pollinosis-affected people have also been identified in multiple locations around the world (Fig.1).

Cite this as D’Amato G, Bergmann KC, Cecchi L, Annesi-Maesano I, Sanduzzi A, Liccardi G, Vitale C, Stanziola A, D’Amato M. Climate change and air pollution — Effects on pollen allergy and other allergic respiratory diseases. Allergo J Int 2014; 23: 17–23 DOI 10.1007/s40629-014-0003-7

A factor clouding the problem is that laboratory evaluations do not reflect what happens during natural exposition.

Considering these aspects, governments worldwide, international organizations, and cooperations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Health Policy of the European Union (EU) are facing a growing problem of the respiratory effects induced by gaseous and particulate pollutants arising from motor vehicle emissions.

Key words

Air pollution respiratory allergy airways hyperresponsiveness bronchial asthma environment climate change 



Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid


Carbon dioxide


Diesel exhaust particle


European Union


Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor




Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


National Ambient Air Quality Standards




Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Particulate matter


Sulphur dioxide


Ultrafine particulate matter


World Health Organization


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Copyright information

© Urban & Vogel 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gennaro D’Amato
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karl Christian Bergmann
    • 3
  • Lorenzo Cecchi
    • 4
    • 6
  • Isabella Annesi-Maesano
    • 5
  • Alessandro Sanduzzi
    • 1
  • Gennaro Liccardi
    • 2
  • Carolina Vitale
    • 1
  • Anna Stanziola
    • 1
  • Maria D’Amato
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Pneumology, Department of Respiratory Diseases, High Speciality Hospital „V.Monaldi“ Naples and University of Naples Federico IINaplesItaly
  2. 2.Division of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases, Department of Respiratory Diseases High Speciality Hospital A. CardarelliNapoliItaly
  3. 3.Allergie-Centrum-Charité, Universitätsmedizin BerlinGermany
  4. 4.Allergology and Immunology Unit, Interdepartmental Centre of Bioclimatology University of FlorenceItaly
  5. 5.ParisFrance
  6. 6.Allergology and Immunology Unit, Azienda Sanitaria PratoItaly

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