Researchers at the University of Michigan found that as a result of climate change, allergy season is predicted to last longer with higher pollen counts in the air, according to a study posted in Nature Communications on Tuesday.

Is this a potential health crisis? Pollen allergies affect up to 30% of the world’s population, the study said. In the past few decades, pollen seasons have been longer and more intense.

  • The study said this trend is “a worldwide health concern resulting in large economic loss because of medical expenditures, missed work and school days, and early deaths.”

Warming temperatures can lead to a higher pollen concentration: Using computer simulations, the researchers studied 15 different plant pollens in the United States and determined how much worse allergy season would become in the approaching decades, according to Associated Press reporting on the study.

  • “Pollen emissions ... are directly correlated with meteorological conditions, such as temperature and precipitation,” reported the study.
  • Higher temperatures will lead to vegetation producing more pollen, which could be an issue for those who experience pollen allergies.
  • Increased concentration of CO2 in the air has been shown to enhance photosynthesis, which will increase the pollen and allergenic proteins that plants produce, researchers found.
  • The additional CO2 in the air coming from burning fuels such as coal and natural gas may contribute to an increased pollen count in the future, per The Associated Press.

Climate change could result in longer allergy seasons: Researchers noted that within the past few decades, the pollen season has begun up to 22 days earlier.

  • “Warmer weather allows plants to start blooming earlier and keeps them blooming later,” stated AP News.
  • A little over a year ago, another study was published, finding that after studying pollen trends from 1990 to 2018, researchers noticed an increase in pollen concentration and longer pollen seasons.
  • “Our results indicate that human-caused climate change has already worsened North American pollen seasons, and climate-driven pollen trends are likely to further exacerbate respiratory health impacts in coming decades.”