In news unwelcome to those who suffer the effects of hay fever, a spike in pollen concentration in the city of Durham has led to the regional Division of Air Quality to declare pollen “severity” as “very high”.
Photographs of the pollen-struck area show trees and houses smothered in a pea soup generated by plants’ sexual exuberance.
The main type of pollen is coming from trees – pine, oak, mulberry, birch, and beech and sweet gum, the North Carolina pollen monitoring group said.
The phenomenon has been described as a “pollenpocalypse”, and a “vision of hell for hay fever sufferers”, by the US press.
Rising global temperatures due to climate change are thought to be behind longer pollen seasons which have exacerbated allergies over recent years.
Increases in the number of days of high levels of pollen have been recorded across the US, with some areas seeing as much as 25 extra days of pollen-related misery since 1995, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The same is true around the world. A study in the journal Lancet Planetary Health found airborne pollen counts have been increasing in the majority of sites studied, as average temperatures climbed.
“In 2000, there were about 8,000 pollen grains per metre cubed. In 2040, it’s projected to be around 20,000,” Dr Tara Narula told CBS News.
About 8 per cent of US adults suffer hay fever. Most people can treat symptoms with antihistamines, which now cost Americans between $3.4bn and $11.2 bn (£2.6bn – £8.5bn) each year just in direct medical expenses.
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