Birch and common ragweed pollen will soon be troubling allergy-sufferers
Those suffering from allergic reactions to birch pollen may be facing a difficult spring.
“The year 2007 was low in birch pollen”, says docent Auli Rantio-Lehtimäki from the University of Turku Aerobiology Unit. “This year will be worse. Judging by the catkins, it seems we are set to experience higher than average pollen counts.”
Birch is the most common cause of pollen allergies in Finland. Symptoms often start even before there is a significant amount of pollen in the air. That time is yet to come.
So far, the Aerobiology Unit has only issued warnings regarding alder and hazel bush pollen in Southern Finland.
The intensity of the blooming of birch comes in waves, one reason for this being the warming of the climate. Climate change has advanced the growing season by about two weeks in the past 30 years. This has forwarded the birch blooming as well.
In the north of the country the effect has been the opposite. The increased precipitation brought on by the changing climate has led to a thicker snow cover in Lapland. The melting of snow now takes longer and the flowering of plants is delayed.
The blooming season’s total pollen count has also clearly increased. Statistics, which have been kept from the 1970s, indicate that already at the beginning of the 2000s, significantly higher birch pollen counts were recorded in several years compared to 30 years earlier.
The warming of our climate also causes new plants provoking allergic symptoms to spread to Finland from the south.
One such plant is the common ragweed (Ambrosia elatior, A. artemisiifolia).
Finland’s Allergy and Asthma Federation calls it one of Southern Europe’s main causes of allergies, to which even Finns can become predisposed thanks to frequent holiday trips.
The common ragweed is currently spreading in Eastern Europe and is already to be found in Estonia.
Its pollen has already been detected as far as in the municipality of Inari in Northern Lapland, brought in by suitable winds from the Eastern European plains.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Several allergy treatment products selling out after warm spell (11.5.2006)
Pollen report: Flowering of grasses has started in Southern Finland (24.5.2007)
Common ragweed (Ambrosia elatior, A. artemisiifolia)
University of Turku, Aerobiology Unit