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'Climate change is a driver of worsening allergies': White fluffballs found throughout Metro Vancouver amidst allergy season

The white fluff floating in the wind can be found throughout the region. The parachute-like white fluffballs are fruit capsules with seeds of the cottonwood tree, known as black cottonwood.

Although it's not related to pollen, it can cause some people to react with various allergy-like symptoms, adding to the impacts of pollen season.

"It's kind of like it's snowing," said Vancouver resident Barbara Tredger. "I get a stuffy nose, kind of a headache."

"I get itchy eyes, sniffling, sneezing," said Patricia Petersen, who also lives in Vancouver.

One Vancouver pharmacist tells CTV News the store's allergy medication has become the top seller.

"We've been seeing a lot more people coming in looking for allergy recommendations," said Naomi Le with Pharmasave. "(We've) definitely seen a bigger uptick in the past few weeks."

In Vancouver and across B.C., the pollen risk levels and allergy outlook remain moderate, one expert tells CTV News.

"This year, it actually hasn't been that bad in Vancouver or British Columbia," said Daniel Coates, of the Aerobiology Research Laboratory in Ottawa.

"Comparatively speaking to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, you're running at about half the pollen levels."

Despite this year's comparatively mild season in B.C., Coates says data shows an alarming trend.

"We have close to 30 years of data and what it's showing is continuously we're seeing a rise in overall pollen levels across Canada," said Coates.

One group of doctors believes the rising pollen levels are no coincidence.

"Climate change is a driver of worstening allergies in the population overall," said Dr. Samantha Green, of the Canadian Associations of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), speaking via Zoom from Toronto.

"Spring is coming earlier and so allergy season is longer."

While Green says significant change is needed to reverse the trend, she also advised people on tips to help remedy their current allergy symptoms. She says antihistamines and using a HEPA air filtration device in the home can be helpful.

Meanwhile, the black cottonwood isn't expected to last more than a few weeks, just in time for grass allergy season to pick up steam. Top Stories

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