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Issues Of The Environment: Climate Change Expected To Contribute To Rough Allergy Season


For those who experience seasonal allergies, this year could be particularly bad, and climate change may be partially to blame.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair sits down with Dr. Daniel Katz, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, and they discuss the implications and where current and future research may lead. 


  • Allergists predict that 2018 will be a very bad allergy season.  Recent research suggests that climate change is worsening allergy season, with the season becoming longer and pollen counts increasing. According to grist.org, “Warmer average temperatures and increased precipitation makes for a longer season with more potential for pollen production.  Increased carbon dioxide from pollution, leads to more pollen production, which means more seeds, which means more pollen in the next season.”

  • Plant-induced increases in allergic rhinitis (i.e., hayfever) and asthma are associated with three distinct seasonal sources of plant pollen; trees (spring), grasses (summer), and ragweed (fall).  Nearly 40 million people in the USA suffer from hay fever, with an estimated four million lost days of work and school. 

  • Although not all flowering plants appear to initiate a longer flowering season in response to climate change (and therefore a longer exposure to allergens), evidence suggests that ragweed does just that.  Ragweed is one of the most prominent allergens in Washtenaw County. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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