AAFA Releases Spring Allergy Capitals 2013

in Outdoor Allergies
Published: April 3, 2013

Map of Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi has been declared the worst U.S. city to live in for those with spring allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Jackson wrested the number one spot from Knoxville, Tennessee, which had held the dubious title three years running. Knoxville didn’t improve that much: it came in second this year.

In AAFA’s annual Spring Allergy Capitals list (released April 2) – the 100 largest U.S. cities are ranked according to how problematic they are for spring allergy sufferers. Three factors are taken into account: pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient, and number of allergy specialists per patient.

This year, Jackson was declared the “winner” due to higher than average pollen counts and medicine usage, despite the fact that the state capital was determined to have a greater number of allergists per patient than average. Here is a list of the top 10 spring allergy capitals for 2013:

  1. Jackson, MS
  2. Knoxville, TN
  3. Chattanooga, TN
  4. McAllen, TX
  5. Louisville, KY
  6. Wichita, KS
  7. Dayton, OH
  8. Memphis, TN
  9. Oklahoma City, OK
  10. Baton Rouge, LA

While most of the top cities were located in the south, where pollen season has already begun in earnest, some northern cities were present as well, such as Buffalo, New York, which ranked 15th overall. Another northern city, Springfield, Massachusetts, rose an astonishing 74 spots to number 18, indicating this year’s spring will be much more challenging in this city for allergy sufferers than previous years.

Some other finds: the city with the overall highest pollen count was Wichita, Kansas. Virginia Beach had the lowest number of allergists per patient, while winner Jackson had the most medicine used per patient.

This report coincides with numerous news reports that say this year’s allergy season will be “the worst yet,” and which cite the increase in pollen concentration because of climate change factors.

The “worst yet” claim is becoming an annual spring ritual in itself in news reporting. Those contending with hay fever should be aware that these claims tend to be based on anecdotal evidence of doctors seeing more allergy patients, and the fact that scientists have been accumulating data on longer pollinating seasons. They are not based on actual pollen counts.

As well, allergy triggers aren’t equally distributed across the country: high pollen counts in Mississippi don’t necessarily equate to a bad allergy season in Washington.

Still, it is possible that this year will be the “worst allergy season yet”– at least until next year.

See the AAFA’s full list