Pollen counts, primarily from trees and some mold spores, have been the primary triggers over the past 2 months with some tree species reaching some of the highest levels for the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. Many sources of media are reporting “juniper”, but they clearly miss the presence of other species of trees such as elm and maple and more importantly oak and birch. These have started to fade, but according to Leonard Bielory, M.D., an allergy specialist with the Rutgers Center of Environmental Prediction at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, these grass pollen levels have started with extremely high levels due to rain and the cool temperatures and will soar over the next 2 weeks will as temperatures reach into the 80’s. Although nasal symptoms are some of them most bothersome, such as sneezing and nasal congestion with postnasal drip and cough, grass pollen also increases may symptoms affecting the eye with itching, redness, tearing and swelling. “With the projected weather forecast allergy sufferers will really have a more intense and longer problem this year!” As I have been working with colleagues at the Center for Environmental Prediction have been studying the impact of climate change in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. for the potential impact of allergies.
Tips for lessening the impact of seasonal allergies include:
- Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Shut windows in your house on days when pollen counts are high. Avoid using window fans that may draw pollen inside.
- Dry laundry indoors. Sheets hanging on an outside line are an easy target for blowing pollen.
- When mowing lawn or gardening, wear a filter mask – the same one you used for COVID 19 will work well.
Our office and the newly established pollen counting station site at Kean University provide pollen counts to the local media. Presently I am the chair of the National Allergy Bureau (NAB) of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's (AAAAI) Aeroallergen Network that is responsible for reporting current pollen levels to the public. We provide up-to-date pollen information online at the free mobile applications AccuPollen® for iOS and Android and to the NAB website at aaaai.org/nab.The Aeroallergen Network is comprised of pollen counting stations staffed primarily by AAAAI physician volunteerswho donate their time and expertise. The NAB is composed of 86 counting stations in the U.S. and three counting stations in Canada. Pollen data gathered through the network is shared with the public and is also used for research to aid in the diagnosis, treatment and management of allergic diseases.