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Hay fever rise linked to carbon emissions  

A continent-wide study of European cities has revealed that carbon-dioxide emissions may be responsible for a rise in the pollen counts. Researchers across Europe looking into the pollen levels of 20 species of tree and plant, and found that in many cases they correlated directly with rising CO2 levels.

The scientists responsible for the study and deciphering the information from across Europe, the European Geosciences Union (EGU), said that in future, town planners may need to take heed of such considerations when deciding which trees to plant. The study comes as the accepted notion that temperature is linked to pollen levels appears to have been discredited. Other theories on the causes of raised pollen counts, such as changes in land use, have also been eliminated.

Hay fever and other similar allergies are on an upward trend across Europe, with GPs in the United Kingdom reporting a one-third increase in cases of allergic rhinitis, which includes hay fever. Other studies have confirmed that CO2 does in fact promote the amount of pollen that trees produce.

The monitoring stations involved in the study were located in 13 countries, and uncovered some interesting results. While hay fever is traditionally linked to the countryside, it was found that pollen counts have generally increased with CO2 levels in cities, but not outside in rural areas. It is thought this is due to the longer lifetime of ozone molecules outside of urban areas, which is known to disrupt plant growth.

The research team suggested that further rises in pollen counts could be expected in years to come as the effects of higher carbon emissions continue to be felt.

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