Bad news for hayfever sufferers

Published: Friday 28 February 2003

Global warming is bad news for hayfever sufferers. Trees and grasses are sprouting earlier, exposing hayfever sufferers to longer spells of sneezing and itchy eyes, reports a British phenological survey.

The research, sponsored by the Woodland Trust, monitors the occurrence of nature's events in a changing environment. It shows that the seasons are shifting, causing earlier and longer warm seasons. Volunteers for the survey note the first signs of spring, such as the flowering of grasses and flowers and the arrival of certain birds, to build a database to make predictions on seasonal changes.

About 25 per cent of the British population suffers from hayfever, which is caused by a reaction in the body to plant pollen. Hayfever, or allergic rhinitis, is mostly triggered by grass pollen. About 20 per cent of sufferers are allergic to birch pollen.

According to the study, in 2002 certain grasses flowered between nine to 13 days earlier than the year before, extending the pollen season.

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