UMass Researchers Study Link Between Allergies And Global Warming

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BOSTON (CBS) – If your allergies have been unbearable this year, brace yourself, they could be getting a whole lot worse. The seasonal suffering is kicking into high gear as the planet gets warmer.

“I’d be all stuffed up,” says Scott Chin who suffers from allergies. “My eyes would be all red and watery and puffy.”

The allergies got so bad that Scott finally decided it was time to go to the doctor.

“I am seeing more people coming in with newly acquired allergic disease and when they come in their symptoms are more severe,” says Dr. John Costa from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Costa says allergies are hitting harder and lasting longer.

“It’s not uncommon for patients to say ‘wow this year is the worst year I’ve had ever,’” says Dr. Costa.

At UMass Amherst, researchers are looking at the link between global warming and the increase in allergies.

Dr. Christine Rogers says the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is having a direct effect on plants.

“For our studies in ragweed we’re finding with double the amount of CO2 we’re seeing a 50% increase in the amount of pollen that’s produced,” says Dr. Rogers. “We can reasonably anticipate that in the future there is going to be a lot more exposure to pollen and that will precipitate more symptoms.”

CO2 is just one piece of the puzzle. Rising temperatures mean plants are flowering earlier, lengthening the allergy season by about two or three weeks.

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