Allergy basics

3 things you need to know about climate change and allergies
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3 things you need to know about climate change and allergies

2015-10-19

Global warming doesn’t just have environmentalists up in arms. More and more, allergy sufferers are feeling the effects of climate change, and the intensity of the allergy symptoms experienced by allergy sufferers are on the rise across the country. According to Michael Brauer, Canada's leading expert on the impacts of climate change on respiratory health, the allergy symptoms experienced may lead to lost productivity and poor sleep for many allergy sufferers. What exactly is going on? And how is it affecting your quality of life?


1. CLIMATE CHANGE = MORE POLLEN PRODUCTION + LONGER ALLERGY SEASONS

Though it’s a Canadian pastime to complain about winter being too long, many parts of the country are increasingly experiencing an earlier spring and a later onset of fall. For allergy sufferers, that means one thing: more time for pollen production. Hay fever season now lasts up to a month longer, and in some parts of Canada that were once too cold for ragweed, cases are being reported for the first time.

2. CLIMATE CHANGE = MORE OVERLAP BETWEEN SEASONS

Traditionally, we tend to view outdoor allergies as occurring in three distinct seasons: spring (tree pollen), summer (flowering grasses), and fall (ragweed). But with summer temperatures arriving as early as April in some parts of the country, there’s increased overlap between the seasons, providing little relief for those looking for a lull in pollen production.

3. CLIMATE CHANGE = MORE CO2 IN THE AIR

With higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, many plants—which absorb CO2 as part of the process of photosynthesis—are thriving, becoming larger, and, in turn, producing more pollen. All this activity keeps the bees busy, but allergy sufferers may see their productivity decrease as they deal with symptoms that can affect their quality of life.

As climate change continues to disrupt weather patterns, evidence suggests an increased prevalence of allergies, with symptoms like congestion, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes on the rise.

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