Share this article:
The worst U.S. cities for fall allergy sufferers were ranked this week, along with a forecast for an overall worse-than-usual season across the country.
The reasons this may be a worse season than usual for the roughly 40 million Americans with allergies include expectations for a severe hurricane and tornado season, which could increase the spread of pollen through wind, and the presence of residual outdoor molds leftover from last year's Superstorm Sandy and other storms. The ranking, which includes 100 cities, is conducted yearly by Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and funded in part by drug company Meda Pharmaceuticals, which produces an allergy medication.
Ragweed, shown here, releases pollen in the fall and contributes to fall allergies. Credit: Danijel Micka | Dreamstime
Rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels associated with climate change may also be extending the growing season for ragweed – a common allergen – by up to a month, particularly in the Northern United States, according to the AAFA. [100 Worst US Cities for People with Allergies: The 2013 List]
"The frosts are coming later, so the ragweed pollen season is later, and is lasting longer, because it is not killed off by frost," said Dr. Richard Weber, a professor of medicine at the National Jewish Health Medical Center in Denver, Colo. and the University of Colorado, Denver, who was not involved in producing the report. "And while this does not apply to everything, we are seeing probably longer seasons across the country, and are seeing higher peaks of pollen."
Some studies suggest that more people have become sensitized, or allergic, to seasonal pollen in recent years as a result of these increased pollen counts, Weber told LiveScience. The increase in pollen will likely persist for at least the next decade, due to projections for sustained atmospheric warming and increased carbon dioxide levels, he said.
Here are the top 10 worst cities for this year, as ranked in the report:
1. Wichita, Kan.
2. Jackson, Miss.
3. Knoxville, Tenn.
4. Louisville, Ky.
5. Memphis, Tenn.
6. McAllen, Texas
7. Baton Rouge, La.
8. Dayton, Ohio
9. Chattanooga, Tenn.
10. Oklahoma City, Okla. Baton Rouge, Chattanooga and Memphis are new additions to the top 10 this year, though they were ranked within the top 20 in the 2012 fall ranking.
Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Following mainly dry weather early this week, damp conditions will make a comeback in the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes and Northeast as June begins.
While Alberto is expected to target the upper Gulf Coast this holiday weekend, the risk for major flooding in the southeastern United States may extend beyond Memorial Day.
Governors of Florida and Mississippi have declared states of emergencies ahead of Subtropical Storm Alberto.
Cyclone Mekunu made landfall on the Arabian Peninsula on Friday night, leaving six people dead in Oman and 30 others missing, according to local officials.
Race fans will need to closely monitor the weather in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday night as rain could make an appearance at this year’s Coca-Cola 600.
Kīlauea continues to disrupt life on Hawaii's Big Island as a third lava flow reaches the ocean and methane gas causes flames to burn blue.
While Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, it will feel like the season has already begun across the central United States as record heat builds into Monday.
As the eruption at Hawaii's Kīlauea Volcano continues to evolve, the multitude of dangerous threats to residents are showing no signs of subsiding.