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Allergy Season Is Already Here, Thanks to Climate Change

You may have already noticed some sniffles and sneezes from pollen and other spring allergens. That’s because allergy season is starting earlier than it has in years past.  In a recent paper written by a plant physiologist at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the authors considered temperature and pollen trends in the Northern Hemisphere going back decades.

The paper, published in Lancet, found a clear correlation between the change in temperature, the change and the increase in the length of the allergy season, and also the amount of pollen that’s being recorded. What does this mean to allergy sufferers? Three main factors related to climate change fuel increases in our exposure to allergens.

Carbon dioxide (C02) is a gas produced by burning carbon and organic compounds and by respiration. It is naturally present in air and is absorbed by plants in photosynthesis. Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began.  As it relates to plants, increased C02 means that we can grow more rice, but it also means more weeds, flowers, and other allergy producing plants will proliferate.

Rising temperatures extend the growing season and the duration of allergy season. In short, spring is starting earlier and fall is starting later, increasing the time we are exposed to allergens.

An extended spring season alters the volume of blooms and fungal spores that are known to exacerbate allergy symptoms. Scientists are analyzing pollen and spores from sediment and rocks and observing changes in vegetation going back millions of years. These changes over time inform us about the impact of climate change on allergen exposure.

 

Follow these tips for minimizing the impact of allergies this spring:

 

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Consider delegating outdoor yard activities, like mowing the lawn, if you have allergies.  If that isn’t an option, wear a mask while performing yard chores.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Don’t forget about your pet! Towel off your pet when they come in from the yard to minimize the allergens they bring in on their fur and paws.
Andrea Groth Wellbeing Detective

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available.

A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives.
When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.