top of page
  • Ricksel Penullar

Spring Season Means Allergy Season

If you look through the microscope and view a plant the spiney spheres are plant pollen, as seen under a microscope. They're the Culprit behind the most seasonal allergies. Every year allergies get worse and worse in the human populaiton, Pollen can cause your immune system into overdrive because your body sees the pollen as a harmful intruder.

As a result, the body produces histamines. Normally, they promote healing by increasing blood flow and inflammation. But they can lead to nasty symptoms we associate with allergies- like sneezing, runny noses, and watery eyes. Generally, people who suffer from allergies have it bad for several weeks during certain plants growing seasons. But because of climate change, the level of pollen in the air is getting much worse. And that's bad news- whether you suffer from allergies or not. In order to grow and produce pollen, plants need to generate energy through photosynthesis. That requires water, sunlight and a third necessary ingredient, Carbon dioxide. Carbon Dioxide exists naturally in the atmosphere, but as we burn fossil fuels like coal in power plants or gasoline in our cars, we're putting more and more CO2 into the air. The more carbon dioxide there is in the air, the more plants grow and produce pollen.

If you compare the 1996 and 2015s atmosphere, the Co2 has been increasing overtime. As more Co2 increased, the ragweed produced more and more pollen. So more pollen means more seeds, which means more plants producing more pollen the following season. But Co2 is increasing the level of pollen in another way as well. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.and it's called that because it traps the sun's heat energy in the earth's atmosphere and is helping warm the planet sour off like a greenhouse.

As the climate warms, there are more days above freezing which means more time that plants are active and producing pollen. The temperature in the U.S over the years has been increasing. In the past 50 years, the U.S growing season has increased by over 10 days, on average. All across the midwest the pollen season for ragweed between1995 and 2015 has been exponentially increasing. While states like Texas didn't see much change in their ragweed pollen season. Most places- especially those in the northern US and southern Canada saw the pollen season increase by almost a month. And this isn't just happening in North America. Overall, most places around the world are seeing longer growing seasons- and, as a result, more days will have pollen as well.

Pollen levels and allergies are only going to get worse from here if carbon emissions continue the way they are. By 2019 the grass pollen production and atmospheric carbon dioxide will be at 7 million of grains. By 2060 those numbers will double by 14 million and by 2085 those numbers will have tripled. While allergies can be annoying for the 1 in 5 Americans that suffer from them, they can usually be kept at bay with over the counter drugs. But in some, allergic reactions can lead to severe reactions like anaphylaxis, where blood pressure drops and airways start swelling shut. And pollen grains can wreak Havoc on peoples lungs, even if they don't suffer from seasonal allergies. In the US, Asthma attacks induced by pollen have led to more than 20,000 emergency room visits per year. So if for no other reason than to protect your sinuses, it's important to reduce the amount of CO2 we're adding to the atmosphere. It can help curb how much we are warming the planet and it can help slow the pollen-ocalypse.


More Posts

bottom of page