New studies show how a warming climate is lengthening allergy season

Local News

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Millions of people suffer from pollen allergies that only worsen once the weather gets warm. We’re in the middle of spring now, and with the entire summer season still ahead of us more people will start to notice the effects of pollen as more plants and flowers emerge.

Are pollen levels on the rise in your area? Find out what the latest pollen levels are and what the current top allergens are HERE.

It’s not just the warming weather in general that’s triggering allergies, but studies are now showing that having more warm days and less hard freezes throughout the year may actually be lengthening allergy season as a whole as the growing season trends earlier. This means more sneezing and suffering perhaps earlier on in the season for those more sensitive to the increased pollen levels.

The growing season typically goes from the last freeze of the spring until the the first freeze of the fall for a given area, but more days spent with temperatures above freezing means the growing season is both getting longer, and starting earlier with less freezes occurring in the spring. This causes plants to begin pollen production much earlier than in previous years.

“As warmer temperatures drive longer growing seasons across the U.S., and rising carbon dioxide levels increase pollen concentrations, conditions only worsen for allergy and asthma sufferers.” – Climate Central

Essentially, the changing climate from increased carbon dioxide levels (CO2) is fueling increase plant and flower growth, which results in more pollen production and allergies that occur as a result.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), “Rising temperatures caused by climate change lead to longer allergy seasons and worsen air quality. Long allergy seasons can cause more allergies and asthma attacks.”

“Between 1995 and 2011, warmer temperatures have caused the U.S. pollen season to increase around the country to be 11 to 27 days longer. These warmer temperatures create more pollen in the air, stronger airborne allergens and more allergy symptoms.” – AAFA

There are a number of plants that cause pollen allergies throughout the year depending on the climate of the area and the local plant species that come with it. Typically, tree pollen begins to emerge in the spring, then grass in the summer, and finally pollen from weeds lasts through late fall.

Climate Central also states, “If warming emissions continue to climb unchecked, by the end of the century, the growing season will lengthen by at least an additional month in most of the United States, relative to late-twentieth century averages. And as the climate warms, plants can move into new areas, exposing people to allergenic pollen that they previously did not encounter.”

It’s recommended that people living with asthma and allergies avoid places or situations that can provoke an asthma attack or allergic reaction. You can also check the Air Quality Index before heading outside to see what pollutants are currently in the the air locally.

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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