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Number of hay fever suffers in Switzerland set to soar thanks to climate change

Number of hay fever suffers in Switzerland set to soar thanks to climate change

A new report from the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences (SCNAT) has predicted that more and more people in Switzerland will suffer from hay fever in the future, with pollen season expected to last much longer in the coming years. Experts have blamed the increase on air pollution, climate change and the impact of invasive plant species on local plants and wildlife.

20 percent of the Swiss population suffers from hay fever

In the study, SCNAT noted that “100 years ago, hardly anyone in Switzerland suffered from hay fever”, known by doctors and experts as allergic rhinitis. However, today an estimated 20 percent of the population suffers from some form of hay fever, a number which is predicted to rise further in the future.

When asked why the number of hay fever suffers is set to rise, SCNAT said that air pollution and climate change were the primary sources of concern. Warmer weather over the winter and spring means that pollen is emerging much earlier than usual in Switzerland - tree pollens like hazel and alder are now being released in January rather than February.

Pollen season in Switzerland set to be longer in future

As a result of the warmer conditions, pollen season is also lengthening, meaning more people will be exposed to allergens for longer. Heatwaves and droughts, which are becoming a common part of Swiss summers, are also found to make plants “more stressed”. This means that they adapt their metabolism to produce more pollen - what's more, pollen from "stressed" plants is known to cause a stronger allergic reaction.

Finally, the spread of invasive, highly allergenic plants such as ragweed is also making hay fever more common. Therefore, “It can be said that people with pollen allergies will probably be exposed to higher pollen concentrations over longer periods of time in the future,” the report concluded.

How can Switzerland make pollen season more bearable?

In all, SCNAT called for measures designed to cut down on the amount of pollen in the air. Among other reforms, this includes taking the climate crisis more seriously, eradicating invasive species, having cities and cantons plant low-allergenic plants in urban areas, reducing air pollutants, improving air filters and pollen tracking systems, and increasing local biodiversity.

For more information about the study, check out the official website.

Jan de Boer

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Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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