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Climate change could mean longer and more intense allergy seasons, new study finds

Posted at 9:48 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 09:40:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — If you feel like your allergies are getting worse and worse every time spring rolls around, you’re not going crazy, said Dr. Scott Taylor, an allergist with Intermountain Healthcare.

“We have seen a little increase in allergies," he said. "And with some of the new data coming out showing that we are seeing an earlier pollen season and lasting longer, so I can attribute that that is true. We are seeing that.”

The U.S. will face up to a 200 percent increase in total pollen this century if the world continues producing carbon-dioxide emissions at a high rate, according to new research from Nature Communications. In that case, the spring pollen season would start up to 40 days earlier and last up to 19 days longer than it does today.

“There are just so many implications of climate change that we're not thinking about on a day-to-day basis," said Alex Veilleux, a policy associate with the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah. "Most people, they just think, 'It's just going to be a couple degrees warmer in the summer, whatever, it's already hot in Salt Lake, who cares.'"

Veilleux has been advocating for environmental policy change for years and hopes if people realize how close to home climate change is hitting, they’ll start to care.

"There are so many unforeseen things that will start happening when you start messing with the natural biological systems on our planet," he said. "The ecosystems are so delicately balanced and nuanced that this allergy stuff is just the start with we're going to see. It's not just going to be these far-off places that are going to be affected by climate change. This will be affecting us directly on the Wasatch front.”