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Allergies Worsening Due to Climate Change

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Allergy season could lengthen and become more intense due to increasing temperatures caused by climate change, says the University of Michigan.

By the end of this century, pollen emissions could begin 40 days earlier in the spring than we saw between 1995 and 2014. Allergy sufferers could see that season last an additional 19 days before high pollen counts may subside.

"Pollen-induced respiratory allergies are getting worse with climate change."

In addition, thanks to rising temperatures and increasing CO2 levels, the annual amount of pollen emitted each year could increase up to 200%.

Allergies symptoms run the gamut from the mildly irritating, such as watery eyes, sneezing or rashes, to more serious conditions, such as difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from allergies in the U.S.

The grasses, weeds and trees that produce pollen are affected by climate change. Increased temperatures cause them to activate earlier than their historical norms. Hotter temperatures can also increase the amount of pollen produced.

Allison Steiner, U-M professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, said the modeling developed by her team could eventually allow for allergy season predictions targeted to different geographical regions.

"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," she said. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

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