May 11, 2023 - Climate

Allergy season in Cleveland is lasting a lot longer

Illustration of tiny toy people climbing up a mountain of pollen with a large flower growing from the middle

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

There's a reason you've been experiencing sneezes, watery eyes and sore throats for longer stretches.

Driving the news: Allergy season — the period between the last freeze each spring and the first freeze each fall — increased by 32 days on average in Cleveland between 1970 and 2021, per an analysis from Climate Central, a nonprofit climate news organization.

  • Cleveland's rate is more than double the average increase of 15 days across about 200 U.S. cities during the same period.

Why it matters: The lengthening allergy season is tied to climate change, per Climate Central, with big health ramifications for the roughly one-quarter of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng report.

  • Earlier springs and longer periods of freeze-free days mean that plants have more time to flower and release allergy-inducing pollen, per Climate Central's analysis.

The big picture: From 1990 to 2018, pollen counts increased by 21% nationwide, with the greatest increases in the Midwest and Texas, according to a 2021 study, Axios' Arielle Dreher reports.

What's next: Ongoing climate change means further deviation from what was once considered the norm.

  • "We do expect that areas that haven't previously had substantial pollen seasons will potentially start to experience pollen seasons," William Anderegg, director of the Wilkes Center for Climate Science & Policy at the University of Utah, told Arielle.

The bottom line: If you've suspected that seasonal allergies have become a more invasive part of your life, now you have solid data backing that up.


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