Pollen sea­son is here: How to cope with it

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Ricky Ens­ley

Pollen sea­son is here. Cars are cov­ered with yel­low pine pollen. Al­lergy suf­fer­ers are seek­ing re­lief of any kind.

Pollen is the male part of the plant’s re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem. Pollen can be trans­ferred from tree to tree by air, in­sects, and other car­ri­ers. The wind pol­li­nated trees are de­signed to re­lease large amounts of pollen. This in­creases the chance that pollen will get to the fe­male flow­ers and pol­li­nate them.

The pollen we see now is pollen from trees, mainly pine. Pine pollen has two large wings on it to help it fly through the air. This also helps to make the pollen big enough to be vis­i­ble to us. Pine pollen is re­leased by the male “cones” on the ends of the branches. The cones re­lease pollen when the hu­mid­ity is low and the weather is warm and windy.

Pine pollen is very vis­i­ble and an­noy­ing, but not many peo­ple are al­ler­gic to pine pollen. More peo­ple re­act to the pollen from other trees (oaks, wal­nuts, and hick­o­ries) and plants like rag­weed. Although pine pollen may not cause many al­ler­gies, it can ir­ri­tate the eyes and cover our cars and houses.

Dale Dor­man, re­tired UGA Hous­ing Spe­cial­ist has some sugges­tions about keep­ing pollen out of your home. You can­not keep all the pollen out but you can re­duce the amount that gets in.

Keep doors and win­dows closed. Spring is not the time to air out your house. Use air con­di­tion­ers to ven­ti­late your home in­stead of open­ing the win­dows. Re­place air con­di­tion­ing fil­ter with a new one that can fil­ter out pollen.

Ac­cord­ing to data col­lected by At­lanta Al­lergy and Asthma Clinic, Ge­or­gia’s pollen sea­son peaks in early to mid -April, re­cedes in mid-May and resur­faces in mid-Au­gust.

Ad­vanced knowl­edge of high pollen days can help al­lergy suf­fer­ers man­age their symp­toms. “Al­lergy Alert” pollen lev­els from Pollen.com web­site are mea­sured on a scale of zero to 12. Low is 0 to 2.4, low to medium is 2.5 to 4.8, medium is 4.9 to 7.2, high to medium is 7.3 to 9.6 and high is 9.7 to 12. These lev­els take into ac­count the amount of pollen that the al­lergy suf­ferer is likely to be ex­posed to for the given pe­riod.

Pollen fore­casts help those with al­ler­gies plan their days in or­der to min­i­mize the ef­fects of pollen when counts are pre­dicted to be high.

A pop­u­lar pollen count­ing web­site is www.pollen.com. By typ­ing in your zip code, you can get the most up- to­date pollen count and a list of the most prom­i­nent types of pollen in your area. In ad­di­tion to help­ing al­lergy suf­fer­ers plan when to avoid the out­doors at home, web­sites like this help them plan for va­ca­tions and work trips.

Ricky Ens­ley

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