Spring is in full swing — and the same rings true for allergy season.
According to the CDC, 25 million Americans have seasonal pollen allergies, and climate change is only making it worse.
Dr. Neeta Ogden is an allergist with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. She said spring and fall have been 2 degrees warmer than in previous years. Rising temperatures mean a longer growing season — and therefore more allergies.
Juniper, maple, grass, and ragweed are all major contributors in the tri-state region. According to scientists, you can expect the pollen season to last 20 days longer, with 21% more pollen produced this year.
Plant soil scientist Dr. Jennifer Albertine put this theory to the test. She used Timothy grass to see how carbon dioxide and ozone affect pollen. The results were astonishing.
“The elevated levels we look at were 800 ppm, which are expected to be here before 2100,” she tells PIX11 News.
While ozone didn’t have a significant impact on pollen, CO2 levels were elevated. Albertine said having higher carbon dioxide will increase pollen production per flower by 50% and can lead to major health issues, especially for those living in urban areas.
“I think that the Bronx and areas like that in the tri-state, the boroughs of New York, really deserve an extra lens put on them in terms of the allergy and asthma control, as we go into spring season when that’s increasingly worse,” Ogden told our sister station PIX11 News.
The heat island effect of urban environments compounds allergens. Plus, most plants around the city are male, which produces more pollen. There are also a lot of disturbed habitats in the city where vegetation often grows and can release more allergens into the air.
Studies also show that densely populated areas show higher incidences of allergies caused by insects and dust mites. When you have an allergy flare-up, you could be more susceptible to viral infections.
“You’re already inflamed because of your allergies, so your immunity is reduced and makes you more vulnerable to things like the coronavirus, so that’s really something to keep in mind,” Ogden said.
In the meantime, stay on top ahead of pesky allergies by watching the weather forecast.
Ogden gave these suggestions to curb allergies, too:
- Good diet and exercise
- Wear a mask
- Limit outdoor activities
- Keep windows closed
- Use an air purifier and humidifier
- Stay hydrated.
- Use eye drops, saline spray or a Neti pot to flush away those allergens.
- Consult your doctor