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Half the population faces hay fever

Hay fever may affect half the population in 50 years' time - double the present number - as climate change extends pollen seasons.

Said Professor Jean Emberlin, from the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at Worcester University: "This will tend to increase the amount of pollen produced on the plants.

"Drier weather in spring and summer will give more days with good conditions for pollen dispersal, leading to more high-count days and the severity of season."

At the same time, she added, "wetter winters will provide a soil moisture store for early growth of grass in the spring".

She says the birch pollen season, which affects one in four people, is now a month earlier than decades ago, while grass and weed pollen is also around for longer than previously.

Her study, commissioned by Lloydspharmacy, says that climate change will also increase the number of plants to which people are allergic. Other countries have experienced similar changes.

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Pollen Research Unit