Pollen expert: Allergy season to last longer but be less intense

Posted March 20, 2012
Updated March 21, 2012

— Runny noses and itchy eyes started a little earlier this year, thanks to a warm winter, but the early start to allergy season might be good news for pollen-haters.

Mary Clark, an environmental technician with the state's Division of Air Quality, has been counting pollen, one grain at a time, for 13 years. A machine collects pollen through the day, and she counts it the next morning.

The counts tell people what particular kind of pollen is making them miserable.

“Today, it’s mostly oaks. There are a few pine,” Clark said Tuesday.

pollen Pollen expert: Allergy season comes early this year

Pine is the yellow-green pollen people can see. It's not the big problem.

“Most people are allergic to oaks. That's because the pollens are smaller,” Clark said, noting that the grains get into people’s lungs more easily. “There are a few grasses. I see a grass pollen, and this is very early for the grass pollen.”

The grass pollen’s early start is probably due to the warm weather, Clark said, which means the allergy season should last longer but not be as intense. The worst of pollen season should end by late April, but grass and weed pollen problems can last into the early fall.


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  • redrubberball1 Mar 21, 2012

    I've never felt any reaction to pollen in my life before this year. A week of sneezing and nasal congestion but it has cleared up now without any form of treatment or remedy. Still, I like spring, summer and fall better than winter.

  • PanthersFan45 Mar 21, 2012

    Where I live in North Raleigh I'm surrounded by plenty of pine trees and everything was colored in yellow-green powder. I like to open up my windows in the spring time since the high heat and humidity hasn't arrived yet, but I also dislike the dashboard on my car ... and table tops or window sills in the home with the pollen all over them. It does get inside even with screens on. Hopefully this will be over quickly where I live, otherwise it windows up and A/C in the spring time.

  • davido Mar 21, 2012

    This has been my worst year ever, and it's only a week into the season--I'm told it gets worse as we age. Bah!

    So far sticking with OTC meds...

  • nanasix Mar 21, 2012

    I take an allergy shot every 4 days, and I've been sick as a dog for two weeks. Coughing and sinus congestion has been horrible.
    I can highly recommend anyone suffering from the things all around us get the allergy series done ASAP. Back in the 80's I would get so sick I'd be hospitalized and on oxygen. Got mad, had it picked up and did fine with shots every 7 days for years, then they only worked for 4 days. For years I've given myself a shot every 4 days and it's made a world of difference. Take care of yourself, no one else can.

  • cerook22 Mar 21, 2012

    How is this good news? IMHO, I'd much rather have it be bad for a few weeks and then be done with it. I'm baffled at how prolonging my suffering is a good thing.

  • dkjeffers Mar 21, 2012

    Define "less intense"? When I'm confined to my house other than to go to and from work, I don't classify that as less intense. Nor do I consider my driveway and cars being yellow less intense.

  • beachlvr0804 Mar 21, 2012

    This "expert" hasn't seen my front porch..........

  • Deb1003 Mar 21, 2012

    I'm glad I don't suffer from seasonal allergies. My condolences to all that do...

  • Whiskeykel part two Mar 21, 2012

    Ugh. Doesn't feel like it.

  • CaptainClucksDuckboatAdventures Mar 20, 2012

    everybody has got to be an expert in something.Wonder what this job pays,cause I could do this. ... everybody has got to be an expert in something.Wonder what this job pays,cause I could do this.

    So you were for the job before you were against it?
    M.S. is masters of science degree btw.