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Study: Climate change is making allergy season worse

Study: Climate change is making allergy season worse
Allergies are getting worse because of the effects of global climate change, according to a new study. File Photo by Kim Ludbrook/EPA-EFE

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Climate change is making allergy season worse, according to a new study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pollen season starts 20 days earlier, lasts 10 days longer and creates 21% more pollen than in 1990, the University of Utah School of Biological Sciences study shows.

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Human-caused climate change has played a significant role in lengthening pollen season and a partial role in increasing the amount of pollen, researchers found.

"The strong link between warmer weather and pollen seasons provides a crystal-clear example of how climate change is already affecting peoples' health across the U.S.," the study's lead author William Anderegg said in a press release.

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"Climate change isn't something far away and in the future. It's already here in every spring breath we take and increasing human misery," said Anderegg, a researcher at the University of Utah's School of Biological Sciences.

"The biggest question is -- are we up to the challenge of tackling it?" Anderegg added.

Allergies can be more than a seasonal itchy, sneezy nuisance to many, the statement said, since they can be tied to respiratory health conditions.

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Though previous studies showed increases in temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide can cause more pollen production in greenhouse experiments and worsening of pollen season in some locations, the new study was conducted on a larger scale.

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The research team compiled measurements between 1990 and 2018 from 60 National Allergy Bureau-maintained pollen count stations across the United States and Canada.

"A number of smaller-scale studies -- usually in greenhouse settings on small plants -- had indicated strong links between temperature and pollen," Anderegg noted. "This study reveals that connection at continental scales and explicitly links pollen trends to human-caused climate change."

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