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Global warming.

In the last 100 years, the Earth's average surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, and it may climb between 2.5 and 10 degrees higher by 2100, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts. For the estimated 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies, and the approximately 18 million with asthma, which is frequently triggered by allergens, global warming may mean more frequent and intense symptoms, according to Paul Epstein, M.D., M.PH., associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Epstein has just completed a study on how increased [CO.sub.2] accelerates and increases pollen production in ragweed, which is common throughout the U.S. and Canada.

In 1998, at least 5,438 people died of asthma in this country, and 423,000 were hospitalized for it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Breathing Problems: "Hotter weather means more ozone, or smog, is produced from the burning of fossil fuels, and that will cause more respiratory effects," says Dr. Rosenzweig. Already, approximately half of all Americans live in areas with unhealthy ozone levels, the American Lung Association reported in May 2002.

What You Can Do

To reduce exposure to allergens and lung Irritants:

* Check your local weather reports for air quality, including smog and pollen counts, before spending time out of doors. If outdoor air is polluted, keep windows closed. Exercise in early morning, before smog and pollen rise with the day's heat. For local air hotlines, call 800-LUNG-USA.

* Use a doormat to reduce tracking-in of dirt end particles. Leave shoes by door.

* Remove carpets, in which pollutants collect wash area rugs.

* Use HEPA filters, which remove microscopic pollen particles, in vacuum cleaners, airpurifying machines (see GG 90) and air conditioners.

* Take refuge in air-conditioned bookstores, museums, cafes or movie theaters when air is bad.

To help reduce global-warming gases:

* Choose energy-efficient electrical appliances

* Drive less: Walk, bike, skate, take public transportion. You'll also burn more calories (30% of Americans are obese).

* Ask Congress (202-224-3121) and the White House (202-456-1111) to preserve and enforce the Clean Air Act
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Title Annotation:The Best Of The Green Guide
Author:Pennybacker, Mindy
Publication:E
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
Words:358
Previous Article:3 steps to ensuring clean tap water.
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