Weather and Health: Allergies

Spring weather arrived early this year in many parts of the United States. Our warm winter followed by record high March temperatures triggered an early bloom for the many plants and trees that release pollen.  As a result, allergy season was off and running ahead of schedule.

Pollen is a fine powdery substance that is part of a flowering plant’s reproductive process. It is also a type of histamine that causes seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay-fever. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that roughly thirty-five million people suffer from seasonal allergies across this country.

Allergy victims even have a difficult time in the urban environment of New York City, as street trees line almost every block.  The city’s ubiquitous Norway Maples and London Planes are both major pollen producers. According the National Allergy Bureau, yesterday’s concentration of tree pollen in NYC was ranked as “high”.

The early start to allergy season this year does not necessarily mean an early end. Doctors say that even after tree pollen production slows down, grass and ragweed pollens can cause reactions for allergy sufferers until the first frost of next winter.

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.