Spring comes allergy season for millions of individuals all over the world, when blossoming trees and plants emit allergen-inducing pollens. Climate change is poised to make allergy season much worse: the planet’s warming is prolonging the growth season, and with it, allergy-related threats to human health.
The amount of pollen generated throughout the blooming season might grow by 40% by 2100, highlighting the critical need to better understand the causes driving that increase. Despite the fact that drought and heat damage forests and grasslands, some grasses, weeds, and trees that generate allergy thrive on rising temperatures and greater carbon dioxide concentrations, growing larger and generating more leaves.
Prior research into historical trends predicts that the pollen season in North America arrives 20 days sooner, lasts eight days longer, and releases 20% more pollen into the air than it did 30 years ago. Extend this scenario to the end of the century, and this season might start 40 days sooner and last 19 days longer.
Several studies suggest these seasons are a hazard to worldwide public health. Students with allergies perform worse than their peers in school; adults’ productivity at work suffers when hay fever attacks.
At the same time, days with the greatest pollen concentrations have been associated to an increase in asthma emergency department visits , with associated costs to both individuals and healthcare systems.
Pollutants destroy pollen’s cell walls, “breaking the relatively large grains into sub-micron particles that can then go deeper into the lungs and are more dangerous for patients. In order to cope with such a future the potential next step is to develop better tools to understand how pollen might change in the future and help people better prepare for the health impacts.
This article is based on National Geographic story; edited by Clean-Future Team