Pollen- and pollution-ravaged Richmond, Memphis and Oklahoma City are the three “sneeziest and wheeziest” cities in the U.S., a new study says.
New York City didn’t even make the Natural Resources Defense Council’s list of the 35 worst cities for allergy and asthma sufferers. And smoggy Los Angeles was way down at No. 32.
To get their numbers, the researchers compared their findings with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation’s annual Allergy Capitals report, which also omited the Big Apple.
“It doesn’t mean there are no issues in New York,” said study author Juan Declet-Barreto, a Climate and Health Research Fellow at the NRDC. “When we look at our data and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation report, New York doesn’t (rank) heavily.”
The NRDC report is the first to chart how pollen and air pollution work together to undermine the health of more than 100 million Americans living in NRDC’s 35 worst cities.
The researchers called on the Environmental Protection Agency to bolster ozone pollution standards and cut pollution from power plants.
“Americans deserve to breathe clean air, but today millions of us are sneezing and wheezing from allergies and asthma worsened by climate change-fueled ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution,” Declet-Barreto said in a release.
Things are only getting worse: nine out of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000. Warm weather exascerbates ozone pollution and increases the production of pollen. Both scenarios damage the lungs.
More than 50 million Americans have allergies, and 26 million have asthma.