Allergies

A girl blows her nose. In the background is a flower meadow with daisies an dandelion.Click to enlarge
Contact with allergens in individuals who suffer allergies can lead to respiratory or skin diseases
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Allergies are the undesired and sometimes violent defensive reactions of the human (or animal) immune system to substances in the environment (allergens).

Federal Environment Agency activities

Contact with allergens in individuals who suffer allergies can lead to respiratory or skin diseases, and in some rare cases, can even become life-threatening.  This is a particular problem facing people who have allergic reactions to substances that are often present in the environment. Contact with allergens like pollen or household dust particles can hardly be avoided.  Although they occur in the environment without human interference, man is responsible for the presence of other allergens (certain chemicals, for example). Consumers can actively avoid contact with some of these substances, thereby preventing and protecting themselves from illness.  However, this requires knowledge about the substances and allergens concerned.

Allergies are a key research focus area at the German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt - UBA) due to the widespread presence of allergens in the environment and their relevance to public health. Therefore, the Federal Environment Agency examined the spread of environmental contact allergies in a research project in German with a focus on private citizens.  A more recent study focused on the significance of airborne contact allergens. The Federal Environment Agency Environmental Survey for Children (KUS) was the first to investigate the allergenic potential of moulds that occur indoors and which are not taken into consideration in standard allergy testing.  In various publications on the subject of environment and health the UBA points out the significant link between environmental influences and allergies and offers information on prevention. A brochure titled Children! The link between the environment and children’s health provides a clear description of allergies in children and is a contribution to the Action Programme Environment and Health (APUG).