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Climate change creates longer ragweed season

A changing climate means allergy-causing ragweed pollen has a longer season that extends further north than it did just 16 years ago, U.S. scientists reported Monday.

In research that gibes with projections by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, plant and allergy experts found that ragweed pollen season lasted as much as 27 days longer in 2009 than it did in 1995. The further north in the Western Hemisphere, the more dramatic the change in the length of pollen season.

Ragweed pollen can cause asthma flare-ups and hay fever, and costs about $21 billion a year in the U.S., according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Lawmaker objects to airport search

SEATTLE | An Alaska state lawmaker is returning home by sea after refusing a pat-down search at a Seattle airport, a spokeswoman said.

Rep. Sharon Cissna underwent a body scan as she was preparing to leave Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Sunday and was then required to undergo the pat-down by Transportation Safety Administration officials, said Michelle Scannell, her chief of staff.

Miss Scannell said that TSA called for the pat-down because the scan showed Miss Cissna had had a mastectomy. But it wasn’t clear from statements by the lawmaker’s office and TSA why that would necessitate the further search.

Miss Scannell described the pat-down search as “intrusive” but did not elaborate on the Anchorage Democrat’s decision.

TSA spokesman Kwika Riley was asked to respond to Miss Cissna’s comments when contacted by the Associated Press. But a general statement issued later did not mention her or her claims, saying the agency is “sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA.”

Both full body scanners and pat-down searches have come under increasing criticism as the TSA has stepped up its airport security measures.

Miss Cissna, who had undergone medical treatment in Seattle, is traveling by ferry from Bellingham, Wash., to Juneau, Miss Scannell said.


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