October pollen - what's in Melbourne's air?

Oct 15 2015

The Canberra pollen count has put up some fabulous pollen stories lately - great work guys!  Meanwhile what's happeing pollen-wise in the southern capital?

Last Thursday (Oct 15) was our first moderate grass pollen day of the season.  And those of you who do the daily survey available on our free app told us it was also our worst hay fever day so far. 

Thursday's grass pollen was only rated as moderate because we counted an average of 39 pollen grains per cubic metre of air.  A moderate day is one with an average of 20 or more grass pollen grains and a high day one with 50 or more pollen grains.  On high days all people who are grass-pollen sensitive can expect to experience symptoms (unless, of course, they take steps to avoid exposure and use their medication).  We are still waiting for the first high grass pollen day of 2015.

But there was an average of 292 other pollen grains in that cubic metre of air last Thursday and today's picture shows you what some of those other pollen grains were. 

The birches are flowering at the moment, as are some of the daisies (capeweed, Arctotheca calendula, is particularly abundant).  We also saw the triangular pollen of different species from the myrtle family, the Myrtaceae.  This family includes such iconic Australian species as the eucalypts or gum trees, paperbarks and bottlebrushes.  Although these plants have showy flowers and are typically bird-pollinated, because there are so many gum trees and so on around, even if only small amounts of their pollen are released into the air there is still enough of it about to reach our trap. But most of the other pollen grains on the slide were from cypress.

Although we don't talk about them much, there were certainly lots of fungal spores around too of course (we are pollen counters, after all).  Coprinus are the ink cap mushrooms and Alternaria are fungi that are found in the soil and grow on rotting plant matter.  Smuts, too, grow on plants where they often causes diseases, notably of grasses.  All three are pretty normal components of Melbourne's air.  Alternaria spores can cause hay fever although generally it's considered an indoor allergen.

Melbourne's warm weather keeps hayfever at bay

Got a grass pollen allergy and want to know how the warm weather will affect your hayfever?  Click here for the full story from the Age.

Don't blame the wattle

Want to find out about spring, allergies and the national pollen count?  Click here for a story from the ABC website.

September pollen

Although today feels like winter it's actually spring.  And for roughly one in six of us, spring can mark the start of the allergy season and that means plenty of wheezing and sneezing ahead.

For the past week or so, hay fever sufferers have been telling us through the Melbourne pollen app about their symptoms - so what in the air could be triggereing these allergies?

Last Friday (September 18) the count was 0 grass pollen and 244 other pollen types.  The grass pollen season won't start for a month or more, but that's a lot of other pollen.  What is it and should you be paying attention to it?

Broadly speaking we classify pollen into grass, tree and weed, which means 'other pollen' includes all the tree and weed pollen.  Last Friday the main tree pollen was cypress and the main weed pollen was plantain.  The pollen of plantain (in no way related to the banana-like fruit of the same name) is allergenic and the levels we saw would certainly cause problems to people allergic to it.  Plantain is also very common and most people will have it growing in their garden or near their house.  So if you're suffering badly from hay fever at the moment, it's possible you have an allergy to plantain pollen.  You can take precautions to avoid exposure to plantain pollen but check with an allergist to find out what you're really allergic to.

Hay fever: why spring is the cruellest season for sufferers

The good news is that the bad news is still more than a month away.

Now that winter has passed and spring is upon us, you don't have to worry about hay fever right away.

Melbourne's pollen count doesn't even begin until October, and even then the first high pollen day doesn't usually occur until halfway through the month.
But if past years' pollen counts are anything to go by, grass pollen concentrations will get worse throughout spring before peaking in the last week of November.

Hay fever affects about 1 in 7 people, who endure watery eyes, sneezing and itchiness during the spring months.

From December onwards, the high temperatures burn off the grass and pollen counts trail off.



How do we know how much pollen is in the air?

Read the full article here at The Age

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