The Sunday pollen count doubles the highest count this season


In the last 24 hours, the amount of pollen in the air has doubled – again.

Saturday saw the highest pollen count yet this season in 1,922 pollen particles per cubic meter of air. After several dry days in a row, temperatures were high and trees like pine, oak, and chewing gum were sending many yellow things into the air.

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The count doubled or nearly doubled each day last week, rising by the hundreds and ending in the four digits on Saturday. Sunday hit all of them with a score of 4,666, which is well beyond the "extremely high" threshold, according to the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma organization.

"Patients sensitive to tree pollen will experience symptoms at this level and should take precautions if they need to stay outdoors for long periods of time," said a spokesman for the organization. "The high range of tree pollen starts at 90," and the National Allergy Bureau estimates that counts above 1,500 are extremely high.


The primary pollinators are again pine, oak and sweet gum, along with birch and sycamore. Grass pollens are still in the middle range and weed pollens are low.

The count remains extremely high on Sunday, despite the overnight rain. A cold front crossed the state early on Sunday morning, bringing some heavy rains and some storms. Rain cleared the Atlanta metropolitan area at 9 am.

Keep in mind that the count was made in the last 24 hours, said meteorologist Katie Walls of Channel 2 Action News. It will be Monday before the numbers reflect the rain.

Temperatures in the mid-1940s on Sunday morning will also offer some relief, she said.

With temperatures still lower in the forecast, Sunday's count should keep its nickname "highest of the year" for at least a few days.

"Monday morning is starting in the 1930s, so this will also help reduce pollination of the trees by keeping the pollen count low for a few days before they recover again," Walls said. "Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, we're back to 70."

The pollen count is expected to continue to rise in the next two weeks, peaking in mid-April as temperatures are hot, she said.

The spring pollen season usually begins in mid-March, but the pollen count for the Atlanta metropolitan area has soared to four digits earlier this year.

"Not everyone is allergic or irritated with the same thing," Walls said, "but when numbers reach thousands, even if you're not allergic to pollen, you can be irritated."

In late April and May, grass pollen counts generally increase, while the pollen counts of trees decrease.

Allergy experts recommend removing their clothes after being outdoors to eliminate pollen irritants indoors. This also means washing your pets out so they do not bring allergens indoors, Walls said.

AJC reporter Shaddi Abusaid contributed to this article.


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