Someday, allergy season may come as much as a month ahead of schedule. The culprit responsible is climate change! According to a study published in the journal Nature Communications, by the end of the year 2100, allergy season could come 30+ days early, with pollen counts hitting 2.5x their current level.
That is the kind of allergy season that packs a significant punch. If you already dread pollen season, this is not good news.
How does climate change affect allergies?
You may have learned in grade school that the wind sometimes carries pollen to pollinate flowers. What you may not remember is that plants know to release the pollen in part based on the temperature outside. With global temperatures rising and temperatures getting warm earlier each year, some plants may get “confused” and start releasing pollen earlier, causing a more extended allergy season.
Where will the allergy season get worse?
This will be noticeable first in the warmer parts of the world, but as climate change worsens, it will become a problem everywhere. Compounding this problem will be the secondary effect of some plants producing more pollen than usual. Common allergens like ragweed, which once were a minor annoyance, may develop into a public health crisis.
More than 24 million people in the United States suffer from pollen-related allergies or hay fever. With an earlier and more intense allergy season, we may see economic loss due to people taking more sick time, being less productive, having more medical expenses, or even having a shortened lifespan.
What can we do about climate change’s effect on allergies?
Sound like something you should be worried about? It is, but it also isn’t set in stone. If we take steps to reduce greenhouse gasses now, we may avert the extended allergy season altogether. There are many small steps you can take on your own: carpooling, using electric vehicles, and using solar panels are just a few. The real source of change, though, is collective action. Calling your representatives and letting them know that this matters to you can bring about a world of difference.
If you or your loved ones suffer from allergies, be sure to see a doctor regularly to make sure they are well-managed, and let your representatives know that the extended allergy season is a result of climate change that impacts you personally. Change is possible, but it’s only possible if we all take action.
Looking to make an appointment with an Allergist? Check out Dr. David Erstein