Get used to the sneezing as climate change lengthens allergy season

Get used to the sneezing as climate change lengthens allergy season

Allergy season, as we all know, is nothing to sneeze at. That congested, wheezy feeling can make like miserable. And for people with respiratory problems, including the millions of Americans with asthma, high pollen counts can be downright dangerous.

And sniffle season is getting worse.

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists found global warming is increasing the duration of pollen seasons and making them more severe. Warmer air, along with higher levels of carbon dioxide, have walloped North American allergy sufferers.

Scientists say the warming planet has moved up the start of pollen season by 20 days since 1990. Additionally, there is 21% more pollen in the air. And researchers say the trend is accelerating.

The effects, the study says, are most pronounced in Texas, the Midwest and the Southeast. Cooler, northern climes fare a little better, including New England and the Great Lakes states.

The study examined readings from 60 pollen monitoring stations across the United States. Using satellite imagery, investigators were able to discount the possibility that land use changes or anomalies in tree growth have thrown off pollen counts at these locations.

Allergies have a significant impact on society. Previous studies have shown those annoying and sometimes dangerous physical effects can cause students to perform poorly at the peak of pollen season. Emergency room visits increase, as do medical expenses that cost the nation billions of dollars.

Scientists believe allergy season might make us more susceptible to respiratory viruses. You might have heard of one in particular: the novel coronavirus.

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