Pollen and Pollen Count

Pollen

 

Spring is not the only allergy season, as many plants pollinate year round. A person’s location will determine the time and duration of their pollen season. Furthermore, pollen counts will vary from day to day as well as hour to hour.

For many allergy sufferers, pollen can be a vicious word reminiscent of many sneezing, unhealthy days and nights. How can fine powder released from flowering plants affect our senses so greatly?

To explain…pollen is a plant’s only form of reproduction and it’s produced in mass quantities. It’s carried in the air and can land in a person’s eyes, nose, lungs and on skin.

For people with allergies, pollen is an allergen that causes an allergic reaction. Their immune system treats the pollen as an invader and responds by mobilizing to attack by producing large amounts of antibody. This allergic reaction can cause the following symptoms: itchy watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, hives, fatigue, and irritability.

Everyone is exposed to mold on a daily basis with no ill effects. A person can also breathe in spores that have been released into the air or consume foods where mold has begun to grow. Those who have mold allergies, however, may have a negative reaction if exposed to too much of the fungus.

In addition to tree, grass, and weed pollen, mold is a common cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis. People allergic to mold may experience allergic symptoms between spring and the late fall. Mold season most often peaks from July through late summer. Unlike pollen, mold can persist after the first frost. Some molds can even grow at subfreezing temperatures, though, most become dormant. Snow cover in the winter reduces the outdoor mold count dramatically but doesn’t kill mold. After the spring thaw mold thrives on the vegetation killed by the winter cold.

In the warmest areas, however, mold can thrive all year round causing year-round allergy problems. Indoor mold even in the coldest climates can also cause perennial allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is a diagnosis associated with a group of symptoms affecting the nose. These symptoms occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, animal dander, or pollen. Symptoms can also occur when you eat a food that you are allergic to.

Pollen and MoldSneezing woman outdoors

Pollen and mold are frequent causes of asthma, and pollen counts can contribute to asthma attacks.

  • Pollen and mold are a fine to coarse powder made up of grains that are transferred among various trees, grasses, weeds and molds.
  • Allergens (allergic substances) can cause an allergic reaction because in some people, the immune system recognizes the pollen and molds as foreign.
  • Pollen is carried from one plant to another plant of the same kind, to fertilize the original plant with new seeds. This process is called pollination.

Pollen Counts

  • Pollen counts, which are usually reported along with the weather forecast, help millions of people who get hay fever (or seasonal allergic reactions) to plan their day because they are allergic to pollen or mold.
  • The pollen count tells how many grains of plant pollen are, or will be, in a certain amount of air during a specific period of time, usually 24 hours.
  • Pollen is carried to another plant of the same kind, to fertilize the forerunner of new seeds. This is called pollination.

The following Pollen Count Table provides pollen counts for low, moderate, high and very high pollen and mold levels

Pollen Count Table

Pollen Type Low Count Moderate Count High Count Very High Level
Number of sensitive people likely to be affected Only causes symptoms for very sensitive persons Many sensitive persons experience symptoms Many persons with any sensitivity experience symptoms Almost all persons with any sensitivity experience symptoms.
Trees 1-14 15-89 90-1,499 1,500 +
Grass 1-4 5-19 20-199 200 +
Weeds 1-9 10-49 50-499 500+
Molds, or Spores 1-6,500 6,501-13,000

Note: Pollen count levels measured in Grains per cubic meter

Click here for more information about asthma and its relationship to pollen and pollen counts.

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