Climate change may make allergy season longer and more intense

Photo (c) Carol Yepes - Getty Images

As temperatures continue to rise, there’s likely to be even more pollen

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan explored how climate change may affect consumers’ allergies

According to their findings, rising global temperatures may increase pollen production on trees, weeds, and grasses, which is likely to make allergy season more severe and longer-lasting. 

“Pollen-induced respiratory allergies are getting worse with climate change,” said researcher Yingxiao Zhang. “Our findings can be a starting point for further investigations into the consequence of climate change on pollen and corresponding health effects.” 

Allergy symptoms are likely to worsen

To better understand what role climate change could play in allergy season, the researchers analyzed climate data from 1995 through 2014. They also created a predictive model to understand how changes to the temperature may affect the production of more than a dozen kinds of pollen and understand how patterns related to climate change are likely to affect allergy season by the end of the century. 

Based on current climate change trends and the available data, the researchers predict that allergy season is likely to start 40 days earlier by the end of this century. They explained that hotter temperatures increase pollen production and cause the process to start much earlier than normal. The researchers anticipate pollen production to be 200% higher by the end of the century. 

In addition to an earlier start time for allergies, the study found that symptoms like sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes are likely to last longer than usual. 

While these findings pose a cause for concern for allergy sufferers, the researchers hope these findings are used to better identify areas that could be at the highest risk for prolonged allergy issues. 

“We’re hoping to include our pollen emissions model within a national air quality forecasting system to provide improved and climate-sensitive forecasts to the public,” said researcher Allison Steiner. 

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