Why Are Some Cities Worse for Allergies Than Others? continued...
Cities with an exceptionally high concentration of trees, grass, or weeds may have more pollen in the air, he says. Local environmental factors such as wind, humidity, typical temperatures -- and air pollution -- also play a role in allergies, notes Miguel Wolbert, MD, an allergist in Evansville, Ind. and a certified pollen counter.
What if you don't live in a major city? How can you tell if your region is especially bad for allergies? Here's what the experts have to say.
Allergy Risks by Geography
Near River Basins
"If you are around certain river basins, such as in Ohio or Mississippi, higher pollen counts occur due to high humidity levels," says Wolbert. Pollen thrives in high humidity, he says.
In the middle of Mississippi, everything sits, Wolbert says, so pollen is likely to be worse.
Plants around river basins vary in different parts of the country. For instance, in the lower Mississippi, ragweed and chenopods thrive, Wolbert says.
In the Mountains
In the mountains, there are fewer plants, Wolbert says, perhaps explaining why some mountainous states are absent from the list. "The higher the mountains, the fewer the plants,'' Wolbert says, resulting in less pollen overall.
And pollen from evergreens is typically heavy pollen, so it falls to the ground relatively quickly, he says. It poses less of an allergy problem simply because it is airborne for a shorter time.
Near the Coast
While some seaside towns made the list, in general a sea breeze helps reduce allergens, Leftwich says. The closer to the sea the better. "If you can afford to live in that first quarter mile from the beach, it's great. Pollens are not so much a problem there."
In coastal areas that are densely populated, however, the pollution can make allergies worse despite the sea breeze, Wolbert says. One exception: In Miami, he says the sea breeze is strong enough to reduce pollen-triggered allergies, despite the population.
Allergy Risks by Region of the U.S.
It's difficult to pick out one region of the country as "better" or "worse" for allergies, according to the experts. Why? Even within a region the trees, grasses, and weeds that typically provoke allergies can differ.