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University of Michigan study finds climate change may worsen allergies


Findings by researchers at the University of Michigan predict warming temperatures may result in increased seasonal allergies.

The researchers used a predictive model examining production changes in pollen through temperature. They put together climate data and socioeconomic scenarios, combined with modeling data from 1995 to 2014.

The study, published earlier this year in March, was led by Allison Steiner, a professor of atmosphere science at the University of Michigan.

"By the end of this century, the changing climate, coupled with higher atmospheric CO2 emissions, could increase pollen production by 200 percent," Steiner said.

They also found that pollen emissions could begin 40 days earlier than normal, with allergy season lasting an additional 19 days. That's in contrast to a normal allergy season which typically lasts 10 to 30 days.

Steiner said with rising temperatures, trees will produce more pollen for a longer period of time.

More pollen production for a longer period of time could also lead to increased allergies, she added.

“It might mean you have symptoms that stretch over a longer period of time or it could also potentially be that the higher pollen concentrations in the atmosphere lead to more intense symptoms.”

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 24 million people suffer from seasonal outdoor allergies. Symptoms could include itching in the nose or throat, stuffy nose, or more serious symptoms like anaphylaxis.

Reducing emissions and spreading awareness, so people can better manage their allergies, are the best ways of lessening this issue, Steiner said.

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