Almost all – 90 out of 96 – of France’s mainland départements – have been placed on red alert for high pollen counts and risk of allergy symptoms, according to France’s National Aerobioligical Monitoring Network (Réseau national de surveillance aérobiologique, or RNSA).
The remaining départements, mostly located in France’s west, were Finistère, Morbihan, Ille-et-Vilaine, Mayenne, Orne and Sarthe, and they were placed on the ‘yellow’, or medium alert.
Bulletin allergo-pollinique du 26 mai
La France dans le rouge pour la Pentecôte!
Les belles conditions météorologiques annoncées avec un temps doux et printanier au nord de la Loire et estival au sud favoriseront l’émission et la dispersion des pollens de graminées dans l’air. pic.twitter.com/2SJFyzsMme
— Réseau National de Surveillance Aérobiologique (@rnsa_pollen) May 26, 2023
The RNSA updated their note on Monday saying that all départements are expected to be affected by high pollen counts and elevated allergy risks this week.
“Grass pollens are gaining strength from the south to the north of the country”, RNSA wrote.
This year, there were pollen alerts issued in the later months of winter, which is unusual for the season, and anecdotally, people across France have noticed more severe allergy symptoms than typically.
“Usually, it’s not as bad, but this year, I really feel that it’s different here. There’s a lot more pollen and I feel it in my itchy nose, my itchy throat,” one woman told TF1 channel on Monday.
Experts point to May weather as the culprit for high pollen counts this year. A representative from the RNSA told the TF1 channel that rain at the start of May “brought some respite to those who suffer from allergies by pressing the pollen into the ground, but now they have led to more grass growth”. With recent sunny weather, there has been more dispersion of grass pollen throughout the air, according to the organisation.
Other experts, like Samuel Monnier at the RNSA, explained to TF1 that climate change has impacted high pollen counts. Birch, a highly allergenic tree, has seen its pollen counts have jumped by 20 percent in the last 30 years.
“This is linked to climate change, and in particular to rising temperatures and CO2 concentrations, which are two key factors that increase the amount of pollen emitted by trees.
“It also leads to flowering earlier and pollen seasons being lengthened”, Monnier told TF1.
In urban areas, pollution can also worsen allergy symptoms, allergist Dr. Marie-Laure Megret-Gabeaud told TF1.
Experts recommend that those who suffer from allergies take simple steps, such as avoiding outdoor sports, rinsing and brushing hair often to remove pollen, and airing out the home prior to sunrise and after sunset.