Pollen Season Now Starts Earlier and Lasts Longer Than It Did 30 Years Ago, a New Study Finds

It's bad news for allergy sufferers, especially when compounded with the fact that researchers noted a 21 percent increase of allergens in the air when compared to data from 1990.

woman outdoors sneezing in kleenex
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Have you noticed that your allergies seem to kick in sooner than you'd expect year after year? You're not alone. According to new research from a team of scientists at Utah School of Biological Sciences, changes in our everyday climate (mainly higher temperatures) have led to pollen seasons starting sooner and lasting longer. Researchers found that pollen season begins about 20 days earlier and lasts 10 days longer than it did in 1990, the Daily Mail reports. They went on to explain that climate change is "likely to further exacerbate respiratory health impacts in the coming decades."

"A number of smaller-scale studies—usually in greenhouse settings on small plants—had indicated strong links between temperature and pollen," Dr. William Anderegg, the study lead, explained about the changes in pollen over a 30-year timeframe. "This study reveals that connection at continental scales and explicitly links pollen trends to human-caused climate change."

Researchers studied pollen samples from 60 stations around the United States starting in 1990 through 2018. Not only did they note that the length of the pollen seasons differed over time, but they also discovered that there is 21 percent more of this allergen than there was in 1990.

The team analyzed statistics from about 20 climate models to develop a greater understanding of these changes in the allergy seasons, too. They confirmed that climate change is the result of the fluctuations, and it actually accounts for half of the pollen season lasting longer and eight percent of the pollen itself increasing. In turn, as temperatures rise, it's actually making plants produce pollen early. "Climate change isn't something far away and in the future. It's already here in every spring breath we take," Dr. Anderegg added.

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