Global warming is making the hay fever season last longer, because trees and grasses are sprouting earlier than normal. “Higher temperatures and climate change is adding to people’s woes still further. This really is the first time there has been a medical, or consumer angle, to the climate change story,” says a spokesman for the Woodland Trust. “We’ve all heard about its impact on species but this is the first time that we will actually see an impact on people as well.”

18,000 Woodland Trust volunteers in the U.K. write down the first signs of spring every year, such as the flowering of grasses, blooming of flowers and trees and arrival of certain birds and butterflies, in order to build a database about seasonal changes. “What we are seeing is a trend to a much earlier spring. Basically what is happening is that winter is being squeezed in the middle. Autumns are lasting for much longer and springs are arriving earlier,” the spokesman says.

About 25% of people suffer from hay fever, which is caused by pollen released into the air. Most cases are triggered by grass pollen, and according to the volunteers’ statistics, certain grasses flowered between nine to 13 days earlier last year than the year before.

“Last year the grass pollen season was exceptionally long because it was wet and warm,” says Jean Emberlin of the National Pollen Research Unit. “The season extended into August, instead of ending in July. Generally, hay fever is affecting more and more people.”

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