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CO2 ... achoo!

An agricultural researcher in Maryland found that increased levels of carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas, may cause some weeds to release more pollen. The Agricultural Research Service in Maryland planted ragweed, a common allergen, in and around Baltimore. They found the city locations, which had higher levels of carbon dioxide, produced more robust and faster-growing ragweed. Doubling the level of carbon dioxide meant 60 percent more pollen produced by other common weeds. Other research has shown trees produce more cones, another source of pollen, after exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, a sensitivity to allergens is closely related to asthma, which has been on the rise for decades. "We're already seeing this impact on weeds and trees. We are now beginning to suspect it's playing a role in the doubling and tripling of asthma rates in the US since the 1980s," said Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Global Health and the Environment at Harvard University.

-- Albany Times Union, 5/26
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Title Annotation:NORTH AMERICA
Publication:Earth Island Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2005
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