Is climate change making allergy season worse?

The growing season is getting longer in southern New England, which can have an impact on the length and intensity of pollen counts.

CONNECTICUT, USA — Is our warming climate help increase the pollen count in southern New England?

The data suggests that’s the case.

First, the types of pollen vary during the growing season:

  1. Tree pollen: Peaking mid to late spring.
  2. Grass pollen: Peaking early to mid summer.
  3. Weed pollen: Peaking late summer and lasting until the first killing freeze.

Is our warming climate increasing the pollen count?

“More and more data has been published to show that with climate change, the length of the allergy season is longer,” Dr. John James, from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, told FOX61 after naming Hartford to the list of allergy capitals for 2022.

James suggested the pollen seasons may overlap, for example, with grass peaking earlier.

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“The human caused climate change is really changing our pollen seasons,” Dr. Sandra Hong from the Cleveland Clinic said, with the data showing our longer growing season is a key factor.

“It’s lengthening the number of days that we can have pollen allergies… and in addition to it, has been increasing pollen counts. They found that it seems to be linked to increased temperatures,” Hong said.

Studies from Climate Central back that up, as the growing season in the Hartford area has increased by more than 20 days in the last five decades.

The time between the last spring freeze and the first fall freeze is getting longer.

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The amount of pollen released is increasing too.

Climate Central says higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere can stimulate plant growth, and lead to more pollen production in grasses and ragweed.

Ryan Breton is a meteorologist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at rbreton@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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