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Hayfever to affect half the population by 2060

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Climate change could see more than half of Britons struggle with the effects of hay fever by 2060, an expert has said.

Changes to weather conditions and background temperatures are altering the length of pollen seasons for trees and plants, according to Professor Jean Emberlin.

One example given is that of the birch pollen season, which affects around a quarter of hayfever sufferers and is now seen up to a month earlier than it was 10 years ago.

Prof Emberlin, from the national pollen and aerobiology research unit at the University of Worcester, also said a few weeks had been added to the previously typical length of season for grass and weed pollen.

She predicts the number of people with the condition will increase from the current level of nearly a quarter (24%) of the population to around half.

‘Wetter winters will provide a soil moisture store for early growth of grass in the spring,’ she said.

‘This will tend to increase the amount of pollen produced on the plants. Drier weather in spring and summer will give more days with good conditions for pollen dispersal, leading to more high count days and severity of season.’

Prof Emberlin, whose study was commissioned by Lloydspharmacy, said climate change would also increase the number of plants to which people are allergic.

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