Health & Wellness

Allergy Sufferers Beware: Ragweed Season Has Begun

6682629c988aeae0734f_ragweed-275x206.jpg
Credits: Office of Communications - Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
6682629c988aeae0734f_ragweed-275x206.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Ragweed season began in earnest in the northern United States, with readings reported in Maine since August 3. The progression of ragweed pollen release is expected to proceed south and is expected to reach the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area within two weeks, according to Leonard Bielory, M.D., a specialist in allergy and immunology with the Department of Environmental Sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and certified by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology National Allergy Bureau as “a pollen counting station.”

“Over 11 percent of sufferers list ragweed as the sole culprit of their late summer-early fall allergies, but over 60 percent of those with allergies are allergic to ragweed, a trend that has been increasing most in the western United States,” says Bielory. 

This appears to correspond to the potential increase in exposure that Bielory has noted, which reflects increasing ragweed seasons in the west and with recent observations he recently reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology that skin test reactivity has more than doubled over the past 25 years. In general, three out of four Americans who have allergies are allergic to ragweed pollen, which causes hay fever. Allergies associated with ragweed pollen costs about $21 billion a year in the U.S.

Sign Up for E-News

Bielory is principal investigator on a long-term U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to study the potential impact of climate change on the human population, especially allergic airway disease, and what to expect over the course of the next 50 years.

A changing climate means allergy-causing ragweed pollen has a longer season that extends further north than it did just 16 years ago. For the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, ragweed season has not been as intense with respect to the amount of pollen, but there appears to be increased sensitivity to pollen, Bielory notes.

“Allergies that have been minor in the past are going to increase and become more of a clinical problem that may also impact patients with asthma,” he says.

According to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, allergy experts found that ragweed pollen season lasted as much as 27 days longer in 2009 than it did in 1995, with increasing range the further north one got. The result is a more dramatic change in the length of the pollen season, explains Bielory.

At one time this was hypothesized and modeled as a possibility, “but it is a reality; this is affecting patients now,” says Bielory. As global average temperatures have warmed, the first frost has been delayed, especially at higher latitudes, which means a longer season for ragweed. “Because warming is greater at these high latitudes, the length of the season has been more pronounced,” he adds.

According to the report, the ragweed season actually shrank by four days between 1995 and 2009 in Texas, while further north it was noted to be 11 days longer in Nebraska; 16 days longer in Minnesota; and 27 days longer in Saskatchewan, Canada.

In New Jersey, the season appears to have grown longer over the past 20 years, but not as prolonged as the differences noted in Canada. The shift is likely to have an impact on the diagnosis of allergies coinciding with the flu season.

“Primary care physicians may under-diagnose and under-treat allergies since they’d be unfamiliar with the change in the allergy season and may require the assistance of an allergist to confirm the diagnosis and prescribe the most effective treatment for their patients,” says Bielory.

Ragweed is not the only pollen season affected by changing climate. The wide-ranging EPA study will also be evaluating the impact on tree and grass pollen seasons in the early and late spring.

Bielory continues to study the impact of pollen on health along with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in the development of a National Pollen Surveillance Network.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Gun-wielding suspect drives robbery victim to bank with two young children in tow

April 11, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers police are investigating a lunchtime robbery on Tuesday in front of Campbell Hall, 617 George St., on the College Avenue campus, which involved two young children and a trip to a Somerset Street bank.

The victim, who is affiliated with Rutgers University, reported that he was walking near Campbell Hall dorm at 12:30 p.m. when a vehicle, ...

South Brunswick: Mayor Killmurray’s Funeral Plans Announced, Township Prepares For Administration Change

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Township officials announced funeral plans for Mayor Christopher Killmurray and plans to deal with filling his position and a second one on the Council.

Killmurray, 55, died at home Sunday morning after battling brain cancer for several years.

According to the township, a viewing is scheduled for 3-7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church at ...

South Brunswick: Mayor Christopher Killmurray, 55, Dies

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Township Mayor Christopher Killmurray died at home Sunday morning, officials announced.

In an alert to residents, Township Manager Bernard Hvozdovic said that Killmurray, 55, passed away at home surrounded by his family after battling brain cancer for several years.

A Democrat, Killmurray was first elected to the Township Council in 2003 and served as deputy ...

Op-Ed: New Jersey’s Out-of-Network Bill is a huge blow to the middle-class

April 11, 2018

As Trenton currently looks to balance the budget, once again it’s our state’s hardest working citizens who will be left holding the bag. This time, though, it will be the hardworking office and ancillary staff from our small business private medical practices.  A bill called “The Out-of-Network Consumer Protection Bill” A-2039/S-485 looks poised to make ...

State Attorney General Releases Princeton Panera Shooting Video

April 9, 2018

TRENTON – The Attorney General’s Office today released surveillance footage related to the March 20th shooting at Panera Bread in Princeton, New Jersey, during which state troopers fatally shot Scott L. Mielentz, 56, of Lawrenceville, N.J.

The shooting remains under investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team (“SRT”).  However, certain ...

April 12 Webinar "Are You Stressing Your Horse Out?

Dr. Williams will be hosting the webinar "Are You 'Stressing Out' Your Horse? Understanding Types of Stress & How to Manage or Reduce Each."

The presentation will be next Thursday, April 12th at 12:p.m. To join the webinar go https://demo.bigbluebutton.org/b/rooms/ca-70ef9c13/EquineStressWilliams prior to the meeting. 

Test your connection early to ensure ...

Somerset: KPS Garage Offers Spring Time Special

Don't let the weather fool you Spring is here, and KPS Garage is offering a special new and existing customers!

1) Freewheel alignment with the purchase of four tires

2) Spring has Sprung Special $29.95

Change oil & filter 
Free tire rotation
Free 30 point safety inspection

exclusions apply

3) Free pair of Bosch wiper blades with any service or ...