Pollution’s Impact on Allergies
Allergies make everyone miserable, and they’re becoming more and more common. Many scientists believe increased air pollution is to blame.
In Singapore, air pollution can manifest as haze, an atmospheric phenomenon which causes dust, smoke and other dry particulates to impair the clarity of the sky. These aerosols usually arise from complex chemical reactions of sulphur dioxide gases (emitted during combustion) converting into small droplets of sulphuric acid. In Southeast Asia, the haze is particularly debilitating during the Southwest monsoon season from July and October, due to strong winds that funnel forest fire smoke from nearby regions1
So What’s the Link Between Air Pollution and Allergies? 2
If you’ve been suffering from constant sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, or itchy red eyes, pollution may be to blame, especially if weather conditions indicate high concentrations of haze.
These symptoms, otherwise known as an allergic reaction, happen when airborne particles enter through the nose and mouth. Though these particles don’t cause harm or carry disease, the body sees them as foreign intruders. To get rid of these particles, the body’s immune system releases a chemical called histamine , which, in turn, is what triggers allergic response.2
Particles that trigger allergies are called allergens. There are countless airborne particles that can be allergens, including the substances that form haze.
Common Air Pollutants
In addition to smoke caused by forest fires, various emissions in urbanized locations often worsen haze and air pollution, contributing to the allergens in the atmosphere.
Some of these emissions include3:
Allergy Symptoms Caused by Air Pollution
Haze and air pollution often lead to respiratory symptoms. Exposure to the particles that make up haze or air pollution may result in the following4 :
- Constant sneezing, coughing, or wheezing
- Itchy, congested, runny nose
- Itchy, watery, red eyes
- Congested airways or tightness in the chest
- Breathing difficulty
- Skin irritations like itchy rash, welts, bumps, or hives
These symptoms can worsen into a condition called Allergic Respiratory Disease (ARD), which manifests as recurring rhinoconjunctivitis (allergic reactions involving the nose and eyes) and allergic asthma.5 ARD affects up to 13.1 percent of the Singapore population6.
Prevention and Treatment Recommendations
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from the harmful effects of pollution on your allergies.
- Check the daily air quality index in your area. Stay indoors when the colour-coded alert reaches orange.
- Wear a mask outside if your allergies are severe and the air quality index is poor.
- Reduce outside activities during pollen and haze season and keep your windows closed
- Use an air purifier and a high-grade air filter that stops particle pollutants.
When you experience allergy symptoms, make sure to take your allergy medication, such as Clarityn®. As the #1 allergy brand worldwide, Clarityn® solutions provide fast-acting, non-drowsy relief from allergy symptoms during the day and at night.
- Managing Haze. National Environment Agency Accessed November 10, 2021.
- Air Pollution and Allergies: A Connection? MedicineNet Accessed March 25, 2020.
- Allergic diseases and air pollution. Asia Pacific Allergy. Accessed March 25, 2020.
- Air Pollution and Allergies: A Connection? MedicineNet. Accessed June 23, 2020
- Impact of air pollution in respiratory allergic diseases - Science Direct Accessed November 10, 2021
- What you need to know about allergies in Singapore. Accessed March 4 2022