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Millions to be affected by expected rise in pollen count

Back to school misery could be compounded for schoolchildren in future as numbers suffering from hay fever caused by ragweed pollen is expected to double in Europe within 35 years.
Ragweed

Back to school misery could be compounded for schoolchildren in future as numbers suffering from hay fever caused by ragweed pollen is expected to double in Europe within 35 years.

A new study, carried out by researchers at the University of East Anglias School of Environmental Sciences, predicts that millions of people across Europe will be affected.

The researchers, who simulated current and future ragweed pollen levels, concluded the number of people affected by ragweed pollen is likely to rise from 33 million to 77 million people by 2050.

The team attribute the spread of ragweed mainly to climate change.

Ragweed, which is native to the United States, is starting to spread in northern Europe but it is still quite rare in the UK. Ragweed pollen is released first

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Back to school misery could be compounded for schoolchildren in future as numbers suffering from hay fever caused by ragweed pollen is expected to double in Europe within 35 years.

Ragweed
Ragweed pollen levels to have a big effect on hay fever sufferers. Photo: iStock

A new study, carried out by researchers at the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences, predicts that millions of people across Europe will be affected.

The researchers, who simulated current and future ragweed pollen levels, concluded the number of people affected by ragweed pollen is likely to rise from 33 million to 77 million people by 2050.

The team attribute the spread of ragweed mainly to climate change.

Ragweed, which is native to the United States, is starting to spread in northern Europe but it is still quite rare in the UK. Ragweed pollen is released first in summer but it can continue, extending the season for hay fever sufferers.

Lead researcher Dr Iain Lake said: ‘Pollen allergy is a major public health problem globally, but it has not been known what sort of an impact climate change will have. This is the first study to quantify what the consequences of climate change of pollen allergy may be.’

Hay fever is most common in children, and in teenagers in particular.


Lake IR et al (2016) Climate change and future pollen allergy in Europe. Environmental Health Perspectives. doi: 10.1289/EHP173

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