Hay fever sufferers face months of misery as experts warn pollen from a plant causing severe allergic reactions may blow over from France.
Ragweed, which spreads easily and is becoming resistance to herbicides, is now growing prominently in the south-eastern region of France, near Lyon.
Its pollen can induce severe allergic reactions and can travel hundreds of miles– and experts warned British people at risk of it being blown across the Channel, the Telegraph reports.
Pollen from ragweed plants, which causes severe allergic reactions, is being blown across the Channel from France, experts have warned (file photo)
Hay fever season is normally over by autumn, bringing relief to millions of sufferers.
But experts said the arrival of the ragweed pollen could extend the season for months due to the warm summer.
The weed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, can also cause asthma, skin rashes and eczema as many believe is responsible for the hay fever season lasting until autumn.
So long as it stays warm, more pollen will travel in larger amounts and reach the UK, researchers at the Laboratory of Climatic and Environmental Sciences in Paris told the newspaper.
Philippe de Goustine, head of the Stop Ragweed association, is campaigning to stop the spread of the plant.
He also told them that around 20 per cent of people who live in the southern Rhane-Alpes region are allergic to its pollen.
Levels of ragweed pollen high enough to cause hay fever attacks were recorded in the East Midlands last year
‘Ragweed is advancing at the rate of nearly 2,000 acres a year and weed removal operations carried out by volunteers organised by local authorities aren’t enough to stop its spread,’ he added.
WHAT IS RAGWEED?
Ragweed is a prolific pollen producer – one plant is capable of generating up to a billion pollen grains per season.
The weed is a far more potent allergy trigger than grass and experts fear it could pose a serious public health problem as its wind-blown pollen is resilient enough to survive a mild winter.
Depending on the speed of dispersal, pollen levels in some locations could rise as much as 12 times, previous research found.
It invaded the Eurppean mainland in the 1960s – brought over in contaminated seed – and has been spreading north ever since.
Last year, researchers from the University of Leicester recorded airborne ragweed pollen levels in the East Midlands high enough to cause significant hay fever attacks.
The weed is a far more potent allergy trigger than grass and experts fear it could pose a serious public health problem if it becomes established.
Amena Warner of Allergy UK told MailOnline: ‘Pollens do cross borders and can cross the Channel. Many people may not realise they’re allergic to ragweed pollen until they are tested for it.’
Hay fever is known to affect between 10 and 30 per cent of the population worldwide and experts have predicted there could be around 31.8 million hay fever sufferers in the UK by 2030.
In the US, roughly 7.8 per cent of people 18 and over in the US have hay fever.