Pollen counts are high — but where do those numbers come from?

Tim Jimenez
April 25, 2019 - 7:58 am
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MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Pollen counts right now are at "extreme levels," says Dr. Donald Dvorin with The Asthma Center.

Dvorin is one of the people helping keep track of pollen counts this time of year.

On the rooftop of his Mount Laurel, N.J., office, he demonstrated how he collects samples.

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Donald Dvorin shows pollen collected on the face of a glass slide,.
Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio

"This machine collects the air particles that layer onto a glass slide over a 24-hour period. So, I collect it every morning, I bring it down to my microscope," he said.

Dvorin keeps tabs on what's in the air locally. Then he sends information to the National Allergy Bureau, which collects pollen counts from all over the country. 

Donald Dvorin with The Asthma Center examines pollen on a slide in his Mount Laurel, N.J., office.
Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio

So, what's in the air that's making so many people miserable?

"Oak trees are predominant in the air. That's definitely our highest pollen count. But that's followed by mulberry, pine, birch," he said. "And almost every hardwood tree you can think of."

He says several trees pollinating at the same time is leading to the extreme level of pollen seen right now. 

Pollen is seen through a microscope.
Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio

Dvorin says he has seen a lot of patients in recent days who are experiencing allergic reactions. 

"Everyone's complaining their eyes itching, watering, sneezing, coughing. Even more asthma symptoms occur with this, which can really be a detrimental effect on your health," he said.

For people experiencing allergic reactions, he says it's best to stay indoors during peak pollen times.

"Generally, the early morning is the worst, but even late afternoon can be a second surge in pollen," he said.

The rain that we're expected to get should bring some relief. But it's not over. Grass pollen season is coming up, Dvorin says, so if you're fine now, but grass gives you issues, then get those antihistamines ready. 

Dvorin says, if antihistamines, nasal sprays, and conventional treatments don't work and symptoms get worse, then it's time to see an allergy doctor.