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Pollen Season Peaking

Tom Bullock/WFAE News

People are sneezing, coughing and speaking with nasal accents all over the city. Not unusual for this time of year when trees and flowers are in bloom and the pollen is high. But is it worse this year?

According to Tom Mather of the state’s Division of Air Quality it is. He said the numbers started going up in March. Trees such as red maple, birch and cedar normally bloom in February, but got a late start because of the colder winter. Typically, the region's pollen season usually peaks in early to mid-April and Mather said this year, those peak numbers are a bit higher.

“The count today is 1,724 grains per cubic meter,” he said. “Typically the peak levels we reach this time of year are 1,000 to 1,500.”

But it was a lot worse five years ago.

“In 2010 it was 3,500, double today,” Mather said.

Most people blame their allergy problems on the thick yellow pollen from pine trees that’s blanketing cars, streets and just about everything in the city. But Mather said, “It’s the oak trees that are most bothersome, that blossom at the same time as the pine trees and that’s what’s really high now.”

Oak tree pollen is much less visible so the bright yellow pollen from pine trees gets blamed for people’s runny eyes and noses. Relief is around the corner. Mather said the pollen season is expected to be over by the end of this month. The next run is September’s ragweed season.