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Pollen Levels & Pesky Allergies On The Rise In Maryland

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — When spring warms up, allergies will heat up. And it promises to be a sneezy season.

Alex DeMetrick reports pollen counts are expected to soar.

From below, trees still have the skeletal look of winter. But look close. Tiny blossoms are beginning to open. Allergy season is about to bloom.

“It will be earlier and the pollen counts will peak higher,” said Dr. John Bacon, allergy specialist.

There are as many kinds of pollen as there are pictures on the Internet. But in Maryland trees will release pollen first, followed by grasses.

And because climate change is producing more carbon dioxide, plants have more energy.

“As the carbon dioxide levels rise, there’s more photosynthesis. There’s actually more pollen and the pollen is more potent. So each year seems to be becoming worse and worse,” he said.

And that’s not good for the one with allergies.

“Runny nose, cough, post nasal drip. Your head just feels congested,” said Bonnie Ochs, allergy patient.

It’s not just pollen. Allergies can be triggered by more than one source, and some are severe.

Some must train to inject themselves against life threatening reactions. Sometimes they come from unlikely sources, like a tongue depressor. The patient was allergic to fresh fruit and birch pollen.

“She immediately in seconds was scratching her neck, her throat was closing. It turns out tongue depressors–popsicle sticks, chop sticks, coffee stirrers–they’re made out of birch,” said Bacon.

There are injections to help build immunity and reduce allergic reactions, but for most it’s going to be more of more of the same.

As the planet warms in the decades to come, carbon dioxide that feeds plants will continue to increase–peaking in 2050–promising longer and stronger allergy seasons.

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