Have allergies? Brace yourself, because thanks to global warming, pollen season's now getting a lot longer in North America.
A recent study conducted by 20 researchers reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that due to a rise in global warming, even more weeks of pollen season have been tacked on to the sniffly time of year. According to Scientific American, since 1995, Minneapolis has added 16 days to its ragweed pollen season, and Saskatoon, Canada has added 27 days. There was a notable correlation between latitude and the number of additional pollen days. Upper latitudes are warming faster than mid-latitudes, and the pollen season is increasing with the warming. Because of this, areas of northern North America are seeing additional weeks added on to their traditional allergy season.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 50 million Americans have allergies, which can sometimes in turn trigger asthma. Ragweed allergies, or hayfever, affects up to 30% of Americans. In the past few years, pediatric physician Dr. Nancy Ott has received "a lot more desperate calls." This past spring, the U.S. experienced what ABC News dubbed a "pollen explosion like most of the country has never seen."
Not just people with allergies should be concerned with these findings. For many, pollen doesn't become an irritant until it crosses a certain threshold - the longer season and more powerful plants may be the threshold needed to trigger allergies. As Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's Mike Tringale reports, "Now you've got yourself a much wider population that could potentially be affected that might not have been affected before."
This report comes on the heels of recent findings showing other health hazards of global warming. Reports show that climate change has contributed to increased exposure to toxic chemicals, thousands of deaths from heatwaves, and a massive food crisis.
As a thin film of pollen covers gas guzzling cars come next allergy season, could it be just another price we'll pay for our contribution to global warming?