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Climate Change Makes Pollen Season Worse for Allergy Sufferers

Allergy sufferer blowing nose outside experiencing more symptoms from climate change

budimir jevtic/AdobeStock.com

A new study by the University of Utah published in the journal PNAS found that pollen seasons have been getting longer and more intense in North America over the last 30 years, aggravating asthma and weakening defenses against respiratory viruses, resulting in more emergency room visits that disrupt lives. Researchers comparing pollen metrics between 1990 and 2018 from 60 monitoring stations indicate that seasons are starting up to 20 days earlier and lasting up to eight days longer, affecting millions of allergy sufferers. The study looked at variable factors such as temperature, rainfall, frost days and carbon dioxide concentrations, and found that an increase in mean annual temperatures was the strongest driver. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 19 million adults have been diagnosed with hay fever, an allergic reaction to pollen, a fine powder from plants that can come into contact with the eyes, nose, mouth and throat.

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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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