Allergy season could start earlier, last longer, and cost us millions due to climate change – SF Gate

According to a recent study from Nature Communications, by the end of the century, allergy season could start 40 days earlier and last 19 days longer due to climate change — potentially increasing the pollen count by 250% and triggering a public health emergency, CNN reported.  

Dr. Eugene Choo, an allergist and immunologist at UCSF, says that while calling this an “emergency” might seem like an overstatement, the study raises legitimate concerns — especially because suffering from allergies comes at a literal cost. 

Aside from affecting our quality of life, Choo says that allergies can increase absenteeism for both children and adults, decrease productivity and hinder job performance. “We could see really, really significant multimillion dollar economic costs down the road as well as just potentially more difficult-to-control asthma in the future if this does transpire,” he says. “Which it looks like at least to some extent, it will.” 

This type of study is nothing new. Choo says that the link between warming temperatures and worsening allergies is already well documented, showing strong correlations between the two. “This is something that really has been pretty well demonstrated in other literature prior to this study,” he continues. 

According to a June 2021 article from the Stanford University School of Medicine, one of their studies showed that the local mold and pollen season has gotten eight to nine weeks longer over the past two decades.

“Climate change is really a problem for our health, and we are living and breathing the effects of climate change now,” the study’s senior author, Dr. Kari Nadeau, told the university blog. Nadeau, who’s also a director at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research, said she took interest in the issue because her patients kept telling her that their seasonal allergies were getting worse. 

“As an allergist, it is my duty to follow the pollen counts, and I was noticing that the start date of the tree pollen season was earlier every year,” she told the blog. “My patients were complaining, and I would say, ‘This is such a tough year,’ but then I thought, wait, I’m saying that every year.”