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Ragweed Can Make it Rough for Kentuckians on Hot Summer Days

A new report documents how as the temperature rises during a Kentucky summer, it can be tough on asthma and allergy sufferers. (Pixabay)
A new report documents how as the temperature rises during a Kentucky summer, it can be tough on asthma and allergy sufferers. (Pixabay)
July 18, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sweltering summer days can make it tough on asthma and allergy sufferers in Kentucky, according to a new report.

A new mapping project pinpoints Kentucky as the 25th worst state when it comes to a "double whammy" of factors that cause health concerns during hot summer days, ragweed and unhealthy ozone smog days.

Kim Knowlton, senior scientist and deputy director at the Science Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council helped lead the study. She says this combination of factors can make breathing and just basic outdoor activity hazardous for more than 406,000 adults and 110,000 Kentucky children living with asthma.

"So climate change is already having effects on people's health and air quality," she said.

The new mapping report shows one-third of Kentucky's residents live in counties reported to have ragweed and unhealthy smog days. The report notes that fewer than one-third of U.S. states have developed a plan to address the health impacts of climate change.

Knowlton says climate change is fueling warmer temperatures which tend to speed up the chemical reaction that makes ozone, which is the first half of the pair of health concerns for residents who live in the most impacted states.

"So, on hot late summer days, there tend to be higher ozone concentrations, and unfortunately that's the same time of year the ragweed is producing its pollen, and a lot of people are allergic to pollen - so, that's the double whammy," she explains.

According to the report, average temperatures in Kentucky, which have climbed about two degrees since the 1960s, are expected to exceed historical records by about 11 degrees by the end of the century if high carbon pollution levels continue globally.

The report recommends that citizens demand that federal, state and local governments prepare for the health threats of climate change.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY