Phoenix and Glendale were second and third on the list, respectively, scoring high for pollen severity from trees, grass, and ragweed.
ARIZONA, USA – The Valley’s position as an allergy haven has always been a common misconception, but a recent study has shown how false that myth is.
Phoenix and Glendale were named as the second and third worst cities in the country for people with seasonal allergies, according to a survey by Forbes Health. The study used EPA, US Census and the Weather Channel’s allergy tracker for statistics on tree, grass and ragweed pollen, along with air quality.
The study also ranked Scottsdale as the 20th worst allergy city, along with Chandler as 21st, Gilbert and Mesa at 24th, and Tucson at 52nd.
Researchers at the Arizona branch of the American Lung Association recently found that part of the blame lies in how higher temperatures affect the area’s plants.
“In the past three years, some of those years have been the warmest on record locally. That also makes allergy season and pollen season worse,” said JoAnna Strother, a lobbyist for the association. “Pollen starts forming much earlier in the year and lasts longer because we have these warmer temperatures.”
The study rejects a long-held assumption many non-Southwesterners believe that Phoenix is an allergy haven due to its arid climate and desert ecosystem. The myth has been cherished for so long that it has been around since before Arizona was even a state when people with tuberculosis and asthmatics flocked here.
“People thought the drier climate would help people with tuberculosis and, in fact, that’s how the lung association started,” Strother said. “Through science and a lot of research, we found that this really wasn’t true… especially with all of our climate burdens in Arizona. The warmer temperatures, dust and drought are definitely making our air quality worse.”
The Valley’s allergy problems are expected to get even worse in the near future.
The ongoing mega-drought in the Southwest has already caused more dust to blow through Arizona, and while rising temperatures will make conditions even more dusty, it will also blow more pollen into the state’s air.
“Allergenic plants don’t die off in the winter thanks to the warming weather, so we have a much longer allergy season than we used to,” public health nurse Ronda Seifert previously told 12News.
“In a warming world with more carbon dioxide, some allergenic plants are producing more pollen than they used to and the allergenicity of the pollen, which is how allergic people are to it, has also worsened.”
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