About 1-in-4 adults and 1-in-5 children suffer from seasonal allergies, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By rough numbers, that means that at least a half-million New Mexicans probably suffer every time the seasons change, and science has some bad news for them.
Allergy seasons are getting longer and more severe thanks to climate change, a growing body of evidence (and personal experience) suggests.
A study of temperatures across more than 200 American cities found that freeze-free season lengthened across the country by more than two weeks (15 days) on average, since 1970. But here in good ‘ol New Mexico, and across the west in general, warmer temps have added 39 days to the growing season. That’s means the season for sneezing, coughing and misery comes earlier and stays later for the allergy afflicted.
A new report from Climate Central explains the connection:
Earlier spring and longer periods of freeze-free days mean that plants have more time to flower and release allergy-inducing pollen. A recent study found that North American pollen seasons became longer (by 20 days on average) and more intense (21% increase in concentrations) from 1990 to 2018.
Seasonal allergies can already last from early spring through late fall. But warming temperatures and shifting seasonal patterns—both linked to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions—are expanding allergy season and its impacts on respiratory health.
In case you were wondering, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s ranking of top “Allergy Capitals” ranks Albuquerque 93rd in the nation for allergy sufferers. Now that's the kind of list we're proud to be on the bottom of!
Even though allergies may seem bad for New Mexicans suffering through longer, more intense seasons, it’s still not as bad as Florida which secured the dubious distinction of having 7 of the 20 worst allergy cities in the country. Not that you were ever thinking of leaving New Mexico for Florida, anyway.
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