Experts: 2014 allergy season may be rough
by Nikki Wiley
April 05, 2014 04:00 AM | 4473 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A juniper bush spreads pollen in the breeze Friday along South Cobb Drive. <br> Staff/Kelly J. Huff
A juniper bush spreads pollen in the breeze Friday along South Cobb Drive.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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University of Georgia Cobb County Cooperative Extension Agent Neil Tarver looks over a water oak off South Cobb Drive that was nearing its pollination season and contributing to the pollen count of 5,230 for Friday. Allergy sufferers are already flocking to doctor’s offices looking for relief, and the sprinkles of rain locally haven’t been helping much.
University of Georgia Cobb County Cooperative Extension Agent Neil Tarver looks over a water oak off South Cobb Drive that was nearing its pollination season and contributing to the pollen count of 5,230 for Friday. Allergy sufferers are already flocking to doctor’s offices looking for relief, and the sprinkles of rain locally haven’t been helping much.
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04-04-14  --POLLEN 03-- A juniper bush spreading its pollen spores in the breeze Friday fogged a lot of the plant along South Cobb Drive. Staff/Kelly J. Huff
04-04-14 --POLLEN 03-- A juniper bush spreading its pollen spores in the breeze Friday fogged a lot of the plant along South Cobb Drive. Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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MARIETTA — Doctors and horticulturists say allergy sufferers may be in for a rough season.

Friday’s pollen count in metro Atlanta hit 5,230, which is considered “extremely high.”

That number is 100 times greater than the count of 50 on Monday and drastically higher than the 214 seen on Tuesday and Wednesday’s count of 963, according to Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic.

Pollen counts in April 2013 ranged from the 2,000s to the 7,000s.

When counts reach into the thousands, allergy sufferers begin reaching for tissues and looking for relief.

Dr. Grace Chiang has had a full waiting room at her practice, WellStar Allergy and Asthma, this week and expects that to continue.

The yellow dust sending patients her way made a later debut than normal this year, said Chiang, whose practice has an office in both Smyrna and Marietta. Pollen typically starts in March, but it wasn’t seen in large numbers in Cobb until this week.

She pointed to the winter’s unusually cold temperatures that have prompted trees and other plants to bloom later in the spring.

“I think that this year may be particularly bad because of the unusual weather,” Chiang said.

The winter’s weather may make for a tough and intense allergy season, said Neil Tarver, horticulturalist for the University of Georgia Cobb Extension Office.

“It’s going to be intense but fast,” Tarver said. “It’s going to be heavy, but you’re going to get over it fast.”

The worst of the allergy season occurs, Tarver said, when the male reproductive organ of the plant becomes airborne. Not all plants produce wind-born pollen, he said, and some is transported by insects and birds.

Allergy sufferers may find some relief by seeking out plants that are less likely to spread pollen in the wind. Mugo pines can be an alternative to juniper bushes, Tarver said.

“If people are concerned about pollen when they’re planting their landscape, they might want to look for some plants that have heavier pollen so the pollen isn’t in their immediate landscape,” Tarver said.

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