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News > Science and Tech

Climate Change is Making Allergies Worse

  • Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable demographics.

    Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable demographics. | Photo: EFE

Published 23 May 2019

Carbon emissions from human activity increase potency of pollen, the duration of allergy season and the proilferation of mold.

As allergy season - which affects about 40 million people - hits the United States, a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists has confirmed that climate change is contributing to worsening its effects.


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Human activity increases carbon dioxide on the planet, which traps heat and increases plant growth. With more plants comes the increased potency and quantity of pollen on the planet.

As heat is trapped and temperatures rise, the duration of the growing season for pollen-producing plants is extended. Higher temperatures also cause individual plants to produce more pollen, which in turn, can increase its geographic range as well.

From 1995 to 2011, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) calculated that allergy season had been extended by up to 27 days in the United States. More recently, 2018 to be exact, was recorded as the fourth-warmest year to ever be recorded and the warmest year for oceans. 

Another study on "temperature-related changes in airborne allergenic pollen abundance and seasonality across the northern hemisphere" analyzed data over a 26 year period. Some 70% of the locations that were studied noted increases in circulated pollen and 65% observed longer pollen seasons.

Another potential threat to allergy sufferers is rising sea levels.

Epidemiologist Isabella Annesi-Maesano pointed out that "flooding is at the origin of mold proliferation" and that "mold can cause respiratory irritation and is a common trigger for asthma and allergies."

Annesi-Maesano added that the most vulnerable demographics are children and the elderly. The epidemiologist also noted that as long as carbon emissions continue to rise, allergies will continue to get worse. 

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