Pollen Counts Soaring in Europe

Pollen levels rising in european cities by three percent

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Allergy sufferers in America should dry their tears as they are not alone. Pollen counts are rising in Europe and in America there has been an early start to the allergy season.

Warmer weather has lead to an early bloom for allergy season. According to a new study, pollen levels across all of Europe are rising.

For the future, this can mean longer allergy seasons and worsening symptoms. The “worst allergy season ever” may become a common expression as pollen levels increase.

"Checking pollen levels should be part of your daily routine."

The study was lead by Dr. Annette Menzel from the Technical University of Munich. Researchers analyzed pollen scores from 1,221 databases from 13 countries across Europe for ten years. Of the pollen scores, 724 had shown an increase in pollen counts while 497 decreased.

Of the 13 countries in Europe, 11 had increased pollen counts including the United Kingdom, Greece, Hungary, France, Poland, Iceland, Switzerland and Italy. Spain and Germany had decreased pollen counts. 

Pollen counts increased significantly for the Cyprus family of trees, Plane trees, Hazel, Ash trees, Oak trees, Alder trees, Birch, Ragweed and Pine. Pollen counts for the Goosefoot family of weeds and Artemisia family of herbs and shrubs decreased.

In European cities, pollen levels have increased by around three percent each year in recent years. In rural areas of Europe, pollen levels have increased by around one percent in recent years.

Pollen counts are rising and researchers believe it is due to increasingly warm weather and foreign species of trees and grasses. The warm weather causes trees to bloom early leading to longer pollen seasons. America is currently experiencing the effects of this as a warm winter has lead to trees blooming early and kicking off the allergy season earlier than expected.

For researchers, while city dwellers are suffering the most, rural denizens will feel the effect of increased pollen levels in the future as well. Cities have warmer weather because of the amount of people, cars and other factors that can trap heat. Researchers believe that this effect will spread from the cities to rural areas in the future.

While the warm weather is a cause for longer pollen season, carbon dioxide (CO2) could also be another factor for the higher pollen levels. CO2 in the air causes more flowers to bloom A higher concentration of flowers blooming in one place will naturally increase the pollen levels.

Allergies are nuisance in America and in Europe. Future studies can examine pollen levels while also examining other factors for allergies, such as air pollution.  

Funding for the study was provided by the German Excellence Initiative.

The study was published in the April edition of PLoS ONE.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 17, 2012
Last Updated:
April 30, 2012