The reason allergy season is starting earlier in Europe this year

Very high temperatures are causing the allergy season to start earlier in Europe.

Allergy season has started early in Europe – Photo Shutterstock

In the last two decades, more and more people suffer from allergies. Runny nose, itching around the eyes, more frequent sneezing, characteristic of allergies, started earlier than usual in some European states, reports Euronews.

The French are at high risk of pollen allergies this month, for example. Doctors have found that there are more people suffering from hay fever this year than in previous years.

There has always been pollen around this time of year, but what's new this year is that it's apparently in much greater abundance. It has an impact on many people who are quite bothered by their allergies“says Dr. Madeleine Epstein, an allergist in Paris.

The reason: high temperatures

The increase in the amount of pollen in the air in France was favored by meteorological factors. Especially since last month was designated as the warmest January in Europe.

The higher risk of allergies is linked to the increasingly high temperatures recorded in most European states.

Winds blow from southwest to northeast at this time in most of the country, and this practically causes the pollen to move. They can move from the southern region, where the flowers are already open and therefore the pollen is already in the air, to the northern region, where… all this pollen is not yet in the air “, explained climate physics researcher Davide Faranda from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), according to the quoted source.

For the first time, global temperatures exceeded the critical warming threshold of 1.5°C over a 12-month period.

Climate change is shifting allergy season

The experts explained that there is not more pollen in the air, but that the pollen season is starting earlier. Moreover, air pollution in cities contributes to the modification of allergen proteins.

France's National Aerobiological Surveillance Network (RNSA) warned last week that there had been a particular increase in hazel and alder pollen, in addition to pollen from species such as cypress, juniper and cedar.

Karl-Christian Bergmann, president of the German Foundation Pollen Information Service, reported that in the last twenty years, tree pollen has started earlier, especially hazel and birch.

This year in Germany, alder pollen appeared in early February, earlier than usual and due to high temperatures, according to the German Foundation Pollen Information Service.

As early as ten years ago, a French government report warned that climate change could lengthen the pollen season, alter the geographic distribution of pollen and increase its concentrations in the air. The report pointed out that air pollution could also interact with pollen and allergies.

The lengthening of the allergy season in the fall and the early onset in the spring leads to fewer allergen-free periods of the year.

If you are allergic to trees and grass and, say, ragweed, then you have very little time, maybe only 2, 3 or 4 weeks without pollen in the air. That's a change from, say, 20 years ago when we had at least three or four months without pollen in the air“, said Karl-Christian Bergmann.

Experts say that if temperatures drop further, we could have a break from allergies, but they expect this phenomenon to be more and more present with climate change and increased CO2 emissions.