By John Salak –
Hey, here’s some disconcerting news. Allergy season traditionally starts much earlier and extends longer than many people realize. In fact, spring allergies begin in February and run well into the fall when tree pollination and grass pollination, as well as ragweed, are taken into account. Of course, not everyone suffers from the same allergies. In addition, pollination levels and other factors can vary from one region to the next, although allergy prognosticators from Houston to Michigan and Maine are all warning that 2022 could be a really irritating and drippy year.
Unfortunately for those who suffer under the weight of these conditions, which is approximately 30 percent of U.S. adults and 40 percent of children, the news may only get worse in the years to come. Researchers at the University of Michigan are warning that climate change may make allergy seasons longer and more intense thanks to rising global temperatures. They predict that by the end of the 21st Century, pollen emissions could begin 40 days earlier on average than now. This would make allergy season last perhaps another three weeks than people currently experience.
Chances are there will be a lot more pollen around too. Rising temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels could, in fact, help generate a 200-percent increase in pollen. “Pollen-induced respiratory allergies are getting worse with climate change,” warned Yingxiao Zhang, a graduate student at Michigan and the first author of the study “Our findings can be a starting point for further investigations into the consequence of climate change on pollen and corresponding health effects.”
Researchers developed their findings based on a predictive model that examined 15 of the most common pollen types and how environmental changes would impact their pollen output. Ultimately, grasses, weeds and trees are all likely to be stimulated by the expected climate changes, producing more pollen earlier and longer than ever.
The university did offer some relief of sorts for allergy sufferers. Its predictive model may provide the foundation that will allow researchers and medical health professionals to better identify and track future pollination patterns regionally and nationally. “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,” explained Allison Steiner, a Michigan professor involved in the research.