Burning fossil fuels is making the North American spring pollen allergy season come earlier, linger longer, and be all-around more miserable, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. “This is a crystal clear example that climate change is here and it’s in every breath we take,” lead author Bill Anderegg told the AP. The pollen allergy season has begun starting 20 days earlier, researchers found, with 21% more pollen in the air — a trend increasingly caused by global warming, and the higher atmospheric CO2 levels that cause it.
Worsened pollen allergies are a significant public health concern because higher pollen loads can set off or exacerbate other respiratory diseases like asthma, which already costs us $80 billion annually in lost productivity and cost of treatment. Asthma and other respiratory diseases are also linked to the combustion of fossil fuels, including from gas stoves in homes, and are a main physical symptom of environmental racism. The worst pollen impacts, the study found, were felt in Texas, and the American Midwest and Southeast. (AP, New York Times $, Earther, The Guardian, UPI, The Independent, USA Today)