Tree Pollens Exert Last Gasp
It’s late April now and that means tree pollens are still an important player in the hay fever equation, but with an important caveat; namely, the peak of the season has passed.
Last week’s second flirtation with “summer in April” send the oak and maple trees (the dominant pollen makers here in Appalachia) into a pollinating frenzy. Tree pollen counts reached 1 to 3 thousand (grains per cubic meter), easily making for the season’s worst levels.
Since then the weekend chill has cut back on the pollen making capabilities of the trees. Note I said cut back, not eliminated, since pollen counts jumped back into the 500 range on Monday. Given the accepted standard that 100 is high, a count of 500 is very high and easily capable of causing a flair-up of allergic rhinitis (medical term for wheezing and sneezing).
The forecast this week is for high tree pollen levels (in the 300-700 range) every day due to mild afternoons with sunshine. But counts in the thousands are not likely again this season for several reasons.
1. Trees have been pollinating for 6 weeks now, with the season tending to fade by early May. Once the trees are fully leafed, the trees shut down their pollen making assembly lines. From May through the first frosts of fall, trees throw out a measured amount of pollen.
2. Summer heat is gone for the foreseeable future and by the time it returns in May, trees will have all but pollinated themselves out.
3. Every year, trees put out a fairly uniform amount of pollen. Given the spike up we saw last week, much of what is going to be produced has already been made.
So if you suffer from tree pollens, expectations are another 2 weeks of high counts through Derby weekend, but the highest levels of the season are likely past us.
Here are a few tips to help you cope.
As always, pollination peaks overnight and in the morning, so best to sleep with the windows closed so pollen does not come through the house screens.
Always damp mop your head before going to bed to clean any pollen off your hair.
Don’t forget to wash your clothes frequently since pollens will collect on your pants and shirts.
Finally, stay in a climate controlled environment which means air conditioning in your car or home.