Posted at 1:06 PM on April 26, 2012
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Pollen
Many of you are telling me at the weather lab that you're feeling a little "sneezey" this spring.
Irritated eyes? Runny nose? Generally miserable?
Blame it on the trees.
According to data from several sources, tree pollen is in the "high" range in Minnesota these days. Juniper, elm and poplar pollen are the predominate types. If you're suffering from allergies, it's probably due to our early spring and active tree pollen season.
There are basically three "pollen seasons" in Minnesota according to allergy experts.
Tree pollen season - April & May
Grass pollen season - June to mid-July
Weed pollen season - Mid-June to 1st frost (includes "ragweed")
You may suffer during one of these seasons more than others, as people are allergic to different types of pollen.
How is it counted?
I worked in Tucson, AZ for 9 years before returning home to Minnesota. Tucson used to be a nearly pollen free zone back in the 40s and 50s. Then all of the snow birds began to bring their favorite pollen producing trees and shrubs with them to plant in the desert to remind them of home. Now Arizona is home to many non-native pollen types.
While in Tucson, I did many stories with Dr. Mark Sneller. Mark is a colorful character who maintained pollen tracking station for Pima County. I visited a local park in Tucson where Mark collected data.
Companies that collect pollen data use sticky "collector rods" which can be the size of a toothpick. The rods are placed in an air sampler device, which circulates air through for a few seconds every few minutes.
After 24 hours, the rods are collected and analyzed under a microscope. Pollen grains are indentified and counted, and that's how we know what we're breathing every day.
Lately, tree pollen has been running in the high range in Minnesota.
Here are a few resources to help you track pollen as we move into the brunt of pollen season.
One surprising pollen fact I learned from Dr. Sneller is that much of what you suffer from may not be outdoors, but from what's tracked inside your home where you spend most of your time! If you clean your floors frequently, you can remove much of the "tracked in" pollen that accumulates in your home. Other "indoor air quality issues" may also be present in our homes. You can consult your local allergist for tips on how to keep your indoor air clear.
Most of us spend 90% of our times indoors. Research shows that our exposure to toxic substances indoors is five to ten times greater than our exposure at outdoor levels. Indoor air pollution is a hidden cause of many health problems, including asthma and cancer. The air we breathe can harm us, not only because of allergens that enter from outside, but also because of the chemicals we saturate our homes with.