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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Release: Immediate
Date: April 7, 2010
Contact: Tom Mather
(919) 715-7408


Pollen Reaches Record High Levels

RALEIGH -- Pollen levels in North Carolina this week have reached their highest concentrations since air quality agencies started measuring pollen in the late 1990s.

The pollen count in Raleigh reached 3,524 grains per cubic meter on Wednesday and 3,099 grains per cubic meter on Tuesday at the Division of Air Quality's central office, the highest levels since DAQ began monitoring pollen in 1999. The count was even higher in Winston-Salem, reaching 9,632 grains per cubic meter Tuesday, also the highest level on record, according to the Forsyth County Environmental Affairs Department.

People who are bothered by allergies may want to limit their time outdoors until pollen levels subside, particularly during early morning hours and when it is windy outside. Keeping doors and windows shut with air conditioners running will help reduce pollen levels indoors.

Pollen levels typically reach their peak in central North Carolina during late March and early April when trees such as oaks and pines are flowering. In most years, the highest daily pollen levels generally fall between 1,000 and 1,500 grains per cubic meter, with the peak levels usually occurring within a one or two-week span. The highest previous pollen count in Raleigh was 2,925 on March 27, 2007.

The high pollen levels are probably due to several factors. The weather turned suddenly warm last week after a cold winter and cool early spring, with little rainfall since March 29. In addition to the dry weather, winds have been blowing the pollen around.

The cold winter also could have delayed some trees that normally flower earlier in the spring, so that more different tree species are flowering at the same time.

"Weather forecasters are calling for rain later this week, so that should knock the pollen levels down to more normal levels," said Keith Overcash, director for the Division of Air Quality. "Hopefully the worst of the pollen will be over by then."

Daily pollen levels in Raleigh can be found at this page on the DAQ Web site: http://xapps.enr.state.nc.us/aq/ambient/Pollen.jsp.

In Winston-Salem, daily pollen levels can be found at this site: http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/envaffairs/pollen_report.aspx.

Pollen sufferers can receive e-mail updates by contacting the Division of Air Quality or Forsyth County Environmental Affairs Department at the Web addresses listed above.

For additional information about air quality issues, visit the DAQ Web site at www.ncair.org or call 1-888-RU4NCAIR (1-888-784-6224). Information about air quality in the Triad can be found at Forsyth County's Web site, http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/EnvAffairs/.

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N.C. Division of Air Quality
B. Keith Overcash, Director
1641 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1641
Tom Mather, Public Information Officer
(919)715-7408, FAX (919)715-7175
tom.mather@ncdenr.gov

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Last Modified: Mon April 12 13:25:02 2010
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