Is climate change making allergies worse?

Allergy experts say rising temperatures and air pollution have led to longer growing seasons that start earlier.

Video Transcript


- Look at that. Wow, they look like they're on fire.

BILL WADELL: From the hills of Tennessee to backyards in South Carolina, pollen is back.

KENNETH MENDEZ: We see a strong link between climate change and health.

BILL WADELL: Experts at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America say rising temperatures have extended the growing season.

KENNETH MENDEZ: The earlier season in the spring with tree pollen release is more intense and happens sooner. And then the growing season ends much later.

BILL WADELL: Air pollution and smog is making the situation worse.

KENNETH MENDEZ: Increased carbon dioxide and ozone, which actually fuels growth for plants. It really puts plant growth on steroids, and therefore increases the pollen releases from those plants.

ALAN REPPERT: The hardest-hit areas look like they're going to be in the Midwest and Northern Plains, really, is where we're looking at some of the worst, especially tree pollen.

BILL WADELL: AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert says warm and wet weather can supercharge the allergy season.

ALAN REPPERT: Well, we're seeing the warmer temperatures starting up earlier. We're seeing more rainfall. We're seeing stronger winds even. That's helping to move the pollen a lot farther than where it's originally starting.

BILL WADELL: Along with medication and avoiding the outdoors during peak pollen hours, the experts say big changes are needed to combat this trend.

KENNETH MENDEZ: In our everyday living, think about how we conduct our lives and how that might impact climate change.

ALAN REPPERT: This is looking like it's going to be a difficult year for a lot of pollen sufferers.

BILL WADELL: And they could get even worse, a troubling outlook for the 24 million Americans who live with seasonal allergies. For AccuWeather, I'm Bill Wadell.