As if deadlier storms, new diseases, compromised agriculture, rising sea levels and endangered polar bears weren’t enough to worry about, add hay fever to the list of global warming concerns.
Studies show that allergy-related pollens are blooming sooner, for a longer period of time and in greater quantity as the climate warms, according to news reports.
“It’s an incredibly complicated issue,” Dr. Martin Citardi, a specialist at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, told the Houston Chronicle.
“[T]here’s evidence that spring arrives today earlier than it did two or three decades ago,” he said. “That means that pollen levels are greater than they otherwise would be.”
University of Massachusetts professor of aerobiology Christine Rogers told the Associated Press that “it’s probably the strongest signal we have yet of climate change … It’s a huge health impact. Seventeen percent of the American population is allergic to pollen.”
One such allergy sufferer, Kimi West, told North Carolina’s News 14 her allergies are now so bad she has to get shots.
“Actually the strength had to go up on (my shots) because the pollen is coming sooner and sooner,” she said.
A researcher at the University of New Mexico told the Las Cruces Sun-News, “I think we can say over the long term there will be more allergy problems here. Fifty years from now, the average pollen count will be worse than it is now.”
The Calgary Herald reported one study that found warming will cause pollen-spreading weeds in cities to grow four times larger than weeds in rural areas.
“This frankly should be a no-brainer, given what’s happening,” U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher Lewis Ziska told the Herald. “Even though we know what’s happening, there isn’t any effort at the moment to try and synthesize this and to make projections for how much of an impact it will have.”
“Allergies may grow like weeds as Earth Warms”
The Calgary Herald, March 28, 2008
“Global Warming Rushes Timing of Spring”
Associated Press, March 19, 2008
“It could be worse, allergy sufferers”
Houston Chronicle, March 20, 2008
“Two local cities ranked high for pollen”
News 14 Carolina (N.C.), March 28, 2008
“Note to allergy sufferers: Season is peaking”
Las Cruces Sun-News (N.M.), March 28, 2008