How Climate Change Is Impacting Allergy Season | Health, Medicine and Fitness

For many people, emerging from the doldrums of winter into the vibrancy of spring is invigorating. It may even seem like good fortune when traces of snow, ice and freezing temperatures recede earlier than expected, giving way to an early spring. However, research shows that these seasonal anomalies are indicators of large-scale climate change.

With the official arrival of spring and the pollen from trees, grasses and weeds it brings, Wyndly has compiled research from academic journals, government departments and nonprofit organizations to identify six ways how climate change may affect you during allergy season.

Climate-related seasonal transitions, while a breath of fresh air for some, lead to worsening respiratory distress for more than 24 million allergy sufferers. The combination of global warming and increased carbon dioxide emissions, which stimulate photosynthesis and pollen production, is leading to longer and more intense allergy seasons in the United States.

A 2022 study by the University of Michigan found that 80 years from now, on the current environmental trajectory, the pollen season could start more than a month earlier and last 19 days later. Moreover, annual pollen emissions could more than triple by the end of the century.

But it’s not just the increased pollen count that will affect allergy sufferers. Climate change leads to more intense and frequent weather events like mega-droughts, wildfires and thunderstorms, all of which can negatively impact respiratory functions by adding harmful pollutants to the air. These effects are not limited to people with hay fever. Conditions like asthma and COPD can be made worse by irritants like pollen that enter the lungs, exacerbating coughing, inflammation and shortness of breath.

To mitigate the impacts of an extended allergy season, which is boring at best and life-threatening at worst, atmospheric scientists aim to make real-time pollen forecasts by combining various meteorological data and pollen collection.

Keep reading to find out how climate change is impacting allergy season.