May 16, 2023 - Climate

Columbus' allergy season is getting longer and worse

Length of allergy season in Columbus
Data: Climate Central; Chart: Axios Visuals

If you're feeling drowsy and sneezing more often lately, you're not alone.

Driving the news: On average, Columbus' allergy season is 30 days longer now than it was in 1970, per an analysis from Climate Central, a nonprofit climate news organization.

  • That's double the average increase of 15 days across about 200 U.S. cities.

Why it matters: Nearly one-quarter of Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Now they're relying on antihistamines for longer periods of time to relieve their watery eyes and scratchy throats, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng write.

How it works: Climate Central measured allergy season as the number of days between the last freeze each spring and the first freeze each fall.

  • That time period's lengthening is tied to climate change, as "longer periods of freeze-free days mean that plants have more time to flower and release allergy-inducing pollen."

The big picture: From 1990-2018, pollen counts increased by 21% nationwide, with the greatest increases in the Midwest and Texas, a 2021 study found.

What's next: Ongoing climate change means even 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 Axios.

The bottom line: When springtime comes around, have tissues at the ready. Gesundheit!

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