The Two Degree Difference: Climate change leading to longer, more intense pollen seasons

Two Degree Difference

As our climate continues to warm, spring like conditions are coming earlier across many locations in the united states. According to Climate Central, spring leaf out in Burlington, VT is now being seen about three days earlier compared to 1981.

It might seem appealing to shake off the winter cold sooner, but earlier springs can have negative consequences such as longer allergy seasons and more persistent pests, like mosquitoes.

“More warmer days, more dry days and less rain can give you a higher pollen season” said Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee of Timber Lane Allergy & Asthma Associates.

But the impacts of climate change on seasonal allergies do not just change the start time of length of the pollen season, they are also found to intensify it. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere directly impacts pollen concentrations because it can stimulate plant growth.

“Climate change and speculations about how that is going to affect people with longer allergy seasons and worse allergies, I think there is some pretty good evidence that its just going to get worse” said Dr. Jaffee.

The prevalance of asthma amungst adult vermonts increased by about 50% between 2000-2010 according to the Vermont Department of Health.

These increased seasonal allergies can have serious consequences for the most vulnerable, including lower-income and minority communities.

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