Climate change is at least partially to blame for the intensification and lengthening of allergy seasons.
Studies show that lengthier and more severe pollen seasons are a result of warming temperatures.
In areas where allergy seasons are generally brief or less severe, they may become longer if these trends continue, according to experts.
In the United States, the spring allergy season typically begins in late March and lasts until early June.
However, in some areas, the spring allergy season has recently gotten longer on both the front and back ends, beginning earlier, in late February and lasting until late June.
The season for fall allergies may now start in August as well rather than September.
According to clinical allergist Neeta Ogden, the rising pollen figures are “really changing the landscape of allergies.”
According to a 2021 study, pollen counts have increased by 21 percent nationwide from 1990 to 2018, the Midwest and Texas experiencing the biggest increases.
According to statistics from the CDC, about one-fourth of American adults have seasonal allergies, but some regions of the nation have historically experienced more severe allergy seasons.
According to a 2023 Allergy and Asthma Foundation report, the Midwest, East Coast, and parts of Texas are home to many “allergy capital” cities with high levels of pollen, allergy medication use, as well as allergy specialists. Wichita, Kansas, and Dallas are at the top of the list this year.
The “allergy capital” list includes the top 20 allergy cities including 7 Florida ones.
And while West of Texas there were no “allergy capitals,” that might start to change as a result of climate change, particularly in traditionally colder regions where there are now fewer winter days when the temperature falls below the freezing point.
The number of days without a freeze is rising across the country, according to a Climate Central analysis that hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed.
The analysis showed that the freeze-free season has grown by the most in the western U.S., by 27 days since 1970.
University of Utah’s Director for the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy, William Anderegg, shared via Axios that “We do expect that areas that have not previously had substantial pollen seasons will potentially start to experience pollen seasons. As seasons get longer, climate change is also moving some plants northward.”
Our health is impacted by climate change in many ways, including our drinking water and the air we breathe.
In the West during wildfire season, the risk of death is increased by the confluence of intense heat and air pollution.
Additionally, as mosquitoes and ticks thrive in warmer climates, more people are at risk for contracting diseases such as the West Nile Virus or Lyme disease.
The cost of changing the healthcare system, which is estimated to be more than $800 billion annually, will be high due to the health crisis caused by climate change.
The prevalence of mold and pollen contributes to the common allergy seasons in the United States, and rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels foster their growth.
This past winter’s record-breaking rainfall and snowfall on the West Coast may have increased people’s exposure to pollen and mold, making allergy season even more intense.
Anderegg and his coworkers discovered that pollen seasons were lasting longer and more intensely felt across North America in the same research that discovered rising pollen counts in recent decades, indicating that “climate change has exacerbated pollen seasons in the past 3 decades already with attendant deleterious effects on respiratory health.”
Anderegg concluded that “The decisions we make to tackle climate change more aggressively will help us confront pollen seasons.”