Itchy eyes, runny nose? Allergy season will be longer this year due to climate change

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Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 08, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — Sneezing, watery eyes, drippy noses... they're all symptoms you can can expect to experience more of this year due to climate change.

"A lot of people who were never affected by allergies previously are noticing," said Kathleen Slonager, executive director of Michigan's Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America chapter.

According to state records, Michigan's average yearly temperature has increased between 2 and 3 degrees since 1900, creating more time for pollination.

Essentially a warmer spring is creating an earlier start for pollination, and a warmer fall is creating a later end date.

University of Michigan researchers have been watching this rise in pollen as well.

Recent work by Yingxiao Zhang, a graduate student and atmospheric scientist at the university, shows that in the post 30 years pollen production across North America has increased by 31 percent.

"I think a very important part of our study that we want to emphasize is that this is just a starting point for investigating the climate change effects on the ecosystem," said Zhang.

"If you add asthma and allergies together, it's like 76 million Americans are affected by it," said Slonager. "And that's more than all the other disease groups combined."

To lessen your symptoms, Slonager recommends a thorough shower before bed to rid your body of pollen, keeping your dirty laundry outside your bedroom, keeping windows closed and taking the right vitamins to keep your immune system strong.

"But there's a bigger picture here, isn't there?" said Slonager. "We need to start looking at why these things are happening, and as a society, make the changes necessary."

According to Zhang's research, pollen emissions could begin 40 days earlier by the end of the century, entirely because of climate change.

"There's so many things that this affects that as a nurse, as a as an educator, I worry," said Slonager.

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