Pollen Counts in our surrounding areas
The yellow-green dust of pollens we see on cars, decks, streets and everywhere, from mid March to April, is mostly pine pollen. It settles on the ground due to its large pollen size. Pine pollen is hardly a trouble maker for most of the allergy sufferers in the triangle area. Most of the misery is caused by oak, hickory, birch, ash and maple tree pollens due to small pollen size and floating in the air longer.
Pollen count is measured according to the level of pollen density in one cubic meter of air. For example, a pollen count of 50 gram per cubic meter is regarded as low or normal while a pollen count above 1,000 gram per cubic meter is considered high. A high pollen count can be hazardous to health, especially for those who have allergies to pollen or suffering from respiratory conditions. When a patient develops allergic reactions to airborne allergens such as pollen, he or she is suffering from Allergic Rhinitis or more popularly known as hay fever.
Pollen may be released from trees, weeds and grasses. An excessive pollen count in the air can cause those who have hay fever to develop symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes, itchy nose, throats and skin.
Dust plume of pine pollens in spring
Many hay fever sufferers also develop other symptoms such as headache, sore throat, fatigue, dark circle under eyes or puffy eyes. Sometimes, patients have such severe reactions to pollen that they may manifest acute symptoms even in a low pollen count environment.
Pollen is measured by using a device called the Rotorod Sampler, which is made up of a few acrylic rods held together by a rod holder. The device is placed in an open area such as a rooftop and is programmed to spin at a certain cycle percentage depending on the sample period required. For example, a 10 percent duty cycle for a 24-hour sample means the rod spins each minute in every 10 minutes over a 24-hour period. The pollen stains on the rods are then examined using a microscope to determine the pollen concentration.
Microscopic picture of a pollen