A study into the impact global warming on the spread of allergies will be launched tomorrow in Vienna. An international team of scientists will kickstart the EU-funded study – the first of its kind and costing some €3.5m – by focusing on the spread of Ambrosia artemisiifolia, more widely known as common ragweed.

The plant, which has spread from Eastern Europe but not yet reached the UK, has highly allergenic pollen that is causing health problems in mainland Europe. Evidence suggests the plant's spread is being exacerbated by climate change; the new study aims to discover how.

Ragweed pollen is known to have triggered increases in asthma, hay fever and a variety of skin allergies. Allergies are estimated to cost Europe's healthcare systems more than €25bn (£21.8bn) a year.

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