Seasonal allergies? Global warming could be making them worse
Published Saturday, August 31, 2019 9:14PM EDT
If global temperatures keep rising, Canadians suffering from seasonal allergies may find themselves reaching for their medication more often, according to new research.
In the last three decades, pollen levels in Canada have gone up significantly, leaving the more pollen-sensitive hacking and sneezing at an increased rate.
- For more on this story, visit CTV Calgary.
The culprit is thought to be the global rise of temperatures as the climate crisis grows.
Daniel Coates, marketing director at Aerobiology Research Laboratories, told CTV News Calgary that: “We are seeing, due to climate change, slightly longer growing seasons, warmer weather.”
One might assume that living in the city would be better for those with allergies than setting up camp in a rural area, but cities are increasingly becoming worse for allergy sufferers as well. Data collected by Aerobiology Research Laboratories shows that pollen counts have risen all across the country, especially in big cities.
Coates said this “could also be attributed to urban planning.
“A lot of cities grow a lot of male trees now because they're less messy, they don't have the flowers or the fruits that female trees bring,” he explained.
The problem is that male trees are the pollen-producers, contributing to the issue for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.
The data from the Aerobiology Labs is not the first scientific evidence that pollen levels are rising due in part to the climate crisis.
A study that came out in The Lancet Planetary Health journal in March of this year looked at temperature-related changes in pollen levels and allergens across the northern hemisphere as a whole, pulling data from global datasets within the last 20 years to create a more comprehensive picture.
Seventy per cent of the locations they pulled data from showed a significant increase in the amount of pollen per season, or the overall pollen count for the whole year. The study said that its findings highlight “an important link between ongoing global warming and public health—one that could be exacerbated as temperatures continue to increase.”
Canadians have more allergies to pollen than any other allergen, according to Statistics Canada. As of 2017, 27 per cent of Canadians reported that they had allergies, and of that population, 40 per cent were allergic to pollens or grasses.
“We're already seeing more and more people suffering from allergies year after year,” Coates said. “It will no doubt get worse as time goes on.”