2021 Allergy Capitals™ 

It’s the season for sneezing and itching! If you live in one of the top 2021 Allergy Capitals™, use AAFA’s tips to reduce your contact with pollen and improve your quality of life. 

More than 50 million Americans are living with nasal allergies and about half of those people have seasonal pollen allergies. AAFA’s yearly Allergy CapitalsTM report explores how challenging it is to live with spring or fall allergies in the top 100 U.S. cities*. 

The report looks at three important factors: 

  • Spring and fall pollen scores
  • Over-the-counter medicine use
  • Availability of board-certified allergists

This year’s report named Scranton, Pennsylvania, as the top 2021 Allergy Capital™ due to its: 

  • Higher than average spring and fall pollen
  • Higher than average allergy medicine use
  • Fewer board-certified allergists 

*Data was studied from the 100 most-populated U.S. metropolitan areas.


Full List of Top 100 Allergy Capitals™ in 2021 

The top 10 most challenging places to live with seasonal allergies are:

  1. Scranton, Pennsylvania
  2. Richmond, Virginia
  3. Wichita, Kansas
  4. McAllen, Texas
  5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  6. Hartford, Connecticut
  7. Springfield, Massachusetts
  8. New Haven, Connecticut
  9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  10. Bridgeport, Connecticut

The top 10 least challenging places to live with seasonal allergies are:

  1. Denver, Colorado
  2. Fresno, California
  3. Portland, Oregon
  4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  5. Stockton, California
  6. San Jose, California
  7. Salt Lake City, Utah
  8. Provo, Utah
  9. Seattle, Washington
  10. Durham, North Carolina

Download 2021 Allergy Capitals - Full Ranking List of 100 U.S. Metro Areas  Download PDF

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Get Seasonal Allergy Relief No Matter Where You Live  

In the spring, the warm weather will bring people outdoors to face one of the season’s biggest problems: tree pollenGrass Pollen follows later in spring into summer. Then in the late summer and early fall, weed pollen – especially ragweed pollen – can make you miserable.

Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include: 

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Itching of the nose, eyes, or the roof of the mouth

There are apps you can use to watch your area’s pollen. On days when counts are high for what you are allergic to, take these actions to reduce your contact with pollen

  • Check pollen counts daily, and plan outdoor activities on days when pollen counts are lower.
  • Keep windows closed.
  • If possible, use central air conditioning with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® HVAC filter.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat or other hair covering when outdoors.
  • If cutting grass, working with plants, or raking leaves, wear an N95-rated mask, gloves and sunglasses/goggles. 
  • Take a shower and shampoo your hair before going to bed.
  • Change and wash clothes after outdoor activities.
  • Dry laundry in a clothes dryer or on an indoor rack, not on an outdoor line.
  • Wipe pets off with a towel before they enter your home.
  • Remove your shoes before entering your home.
  • Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
  • Use a nasal rinse to flush out inhaled pollen.

When cleaning inside your home, be aware that you may stir up pollen that has collected on surfaces. CERTIFIED asthma & friendly® vacuums and dusting cloths help trap and contain allergens like pollen.

Asthma and Allergy Friendly

There are also options available to prevent or treat allergy symptoms: 

  • Over-the-counter or prescription allergy medicines – such as antihistamines 
  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays
  • Immunotherapy – allergy shots or tablets for long-term treatment to reduce how severe your allergic reactions are 

Talk with your doctor before allergy seasons begin to discuss which treatment is right for you.  


The Impact of COVID-19

In 2020, fewer people were affected by pollen allergies. When the year started, experts thought weather and pollen would have significant effects. But by the spring, COVID-19 restrictions kept people inside more. This led to less pollen exposure. Children felt the least impact from seasonal allergies due to closed schools and less time spent outdoors.


 Climate Change and Allergies

The impact of climate change has become a dangerous cycle. Rising global temperatures lead to more extreme weather. Weather changes – such as heat waves and droughts – can lead to a lack of air flow. When the air doesn’t move, pollutants react together in the heat and sun. This increases ground-level ozone.1

Ground-level ozone is a major part of urban smog. More air pollution and smog cause higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO­­2). This results in warmer temperatures. And the cycle continues.

This cycle results in increased pollen. This can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. Rising CO2 levels also contribute to rising temperatures, leading to longer growing seasons. The length of the growing season refers to the number of days when plant growth takes place. With warmer, longer seasons, allergy-causing plants can move into new areas.

We are already seeing the effects. Spring across the U.S. is 2 degrees warmer on average. Fall for much of the U.S. is also getting warmer, making the summer growing season last longer.

If we don’t slow down the cycle, pollen production will only get worse. More than 24 million people already have seasonal allergic rhinitis, and pollen allergies are a major cause.2 If this cycle continues, we may see the number of people with seasonal allergies increase.


Recommended Citation

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, (2021). [2021 Allergy Capitals: The Most Challenging Places to Live With Allergies]. Retrieved from allergycapitals.com.

Media Inquiries

For media and related inquiries, contact media@aafa.org.



  1. Climate Change is Threatening Air Quality across the Country. (2019, July 30). Retrieved from: https://www.climatecentral.org/news/climate-change-is-threatening-air-quality-across-the-country-2019
  2. FastStats: Allergies and Hay Fever. (2021, January 25). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/allergies.htm


Our Allergy Capitals™ report is an independent research project of AAFA.