(Last Updated On: April 25, 2023)

Does Pollution Make Allergies Worse?


Pollution of all kinds can have a definite impact on allergy sufferers. You may be surprised to learn that Indoor air quality is just as important as outdoor air quality when it comes to managing your allergy triggers. Outdoor air can contain harmful pollution that can exacerbate your allergies, but indoor air can have just as strong an impact on allergy sufferers. Indoor pollutants such as pollen, dust mites, and mold spores in the air can worsen allergic reactions in some people. Outdoor air contaminants can also intensify existing allergic reactions and increase your chances of developing new allergies. It’s important to stay on top of the quality of your outdoor and indoor air to effectively manage your allergies.

Hazy skyline

The Impact of Air Pollution on Seasonal Allergies

Allergy sufferers should be mindful of both exterior and interior air quality when reducing allergen exposure. Outdoor air pollution can worsen seasonal allergies by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Inhaling these pollutants can lead to inflammation of the lungs, which in turn may cause sneezing, coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes, and throat irritation.

The most common sources of outdoor air pollution include vehicle exhaust fumes from cars and trucks; smoke from burning wood or coal; industrial emissions from factories; dust storms; pollen-producing plants like ragweed; and chemical compounds released during certain agricultural activities. Keeping tabs on the air quality index (AQI) can enable you to determine how much pollution is in your vicinity, so you can act accordingly. Monitoring ground-level ozone concentrations can also give you additional insight into potential risks associated with outdoor activities during peak hours when ozone tends to be higher than normal.

Indoor air pollution can also worsen allergy symptoms. Cooking with solid biomass fuels like wood or charcoal releases microscopic particles that can irritate sensitive respiratory systems. Other sources of indoor air pollutants include pet dander, mold spores, construction materials containing formaldehyde, cleaning agents containing ammonia or chlorine bleach, pesticides used for pest control, and secondhand tobacco smoke. Using fragranced items, such as candles or aerosol splashes can also raise indoor levels of allergens. All these substances have been linked to an increased risk of allergic reactions in some people.

Understanding the Air Quality Index (AQI)

What is the Air Quality Index (AQI)? The AQI is a metric used to evaluate the presence of air pollutants and inform individuals about any associated health risks. The AQI is calculated by taking into account five major pollutant groups: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (PM2.5), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

The concentration of each pollutant is measured in parts per million or micrograms per cubic meter, which are then used to create an AQI score. These values are then combined to form an overall score for each day’s air quality reading, which can be found on local weather reports or websites such as AirNow. The AQI scale ranges from 0 – 500, with 0 being the best quality air and 500 being the worst.

Ground-Level Ozone’s Effect on Allergy Sufferers

Ground-level ozone is a type of air contamination resulting from the combination of nitrogen oxides and unstable organic compounds when exposed to sunlight. High ozone levels can intensify existing signs like coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, breathlessness, and breathing difficulties for those with allergies, and put them at a greater risk of developing respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Urban areas are more prone to ground-level ozone pollution due to greater emissions of pollutants from vehicles and other sources. Vehicle emissions create a “photochemical smog” that traps pollen and prevents it from escaping into the upper atmosphere.

Too much pollen stays at ground level and is breathed in by allergy sufferers. Hay fever is thus likely to be twice as common in urban areas because of the air pollution caused by traffic and vehicle fumes.

People with allergies should monitor local AQI readings during peak pollen season, as higher levels can signify a heightened presence of ground-level ozone. To reduce exposure to allergens while outdoors individuals should limit outdoor activities when AQI readings are above 50 parts per billion (ppb). They should also wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants when engaging in outdoor activities even if the AQI reading is below 50 ppb.

Precautionary Measures for Reducing Exposure

Taking preventative steps is essential to minimize contact with airborne irritants. During high-pollution days, individuals should plan their daily activities accordingly and keep track of local air quality indices (AQI) via apps or websites provided by local authorities for real-time updates. To ensure healthy air quality it is important to take appropriate steps such as closing windows during peak hours of pollution, regularly changing HVAC filters, and using air purifiers with HEPA filters. Additionally, one should avoid exercising outdoors when AQI readings indicate unhealthy levels of pollutants in the air.

Allergy sufferers should pay attention to pollen counts as well as humidity levels that can make symptoms worse due to increased allergen particles in the air. For those with seasonal allergies, wearing a face covering when outdoors on days of high airborne allergen levels could be beneficial in helping to decrease symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions: Does Pollution Make Allergies Worse?

Does Pollution Make Allergies Worse?
Yes, indoor and outdoor pollution can make allergies worse. Indoor pollutants such as pollen, dust mites, and mold spores in the air can exacerbate allergic reactions in some people. Outdoor air contaminants can also worsen existing allergic reactions and increase one’s chances of developing new allergies.

Can Air Pollution Trigger Allergies?
Yes, air pollution–both indoor and outdoor–can trigger allergies. Inhaling certain contaminants, such as pollen, dust mites, and mold spores can provoke allergic reactions. In areas with degraded air quality, due to vehicular and industrial emissions, allergens are more concentrated and can trigger allergies.

Does Pollution Make Pollen Worse?
Pollution can worsen the effects of pollen. Pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter can exacerbate the effects of pollen. These pollutants can irritate the eyes and respiratory system. These air pollutants may also increase the amount of allergens released from plants due to increased stress on their cells caused by environmental changes.

Top Pick

BreatheSmart 75i
Air Purifier
$749 Buy Now

Best Air Purifiers for Allergies

Alen Breathesmart 45i $429 Buy Now
Austin Air
Healthmate Plus
Air Purifier

$855 Buy Now
Air Purifier

$900 Buy Now
Classic 605
Air Purifier

$495 Buy Now
AirMega 400
Air Purifier

$450 Buy Now