Tree pollen count ‘very high’ in western Massachusetts

Local News

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Pollen! You can see it, and if you suffer from allergies, you can definitely feel it.

Right now, the type of pollen impacting allergy sufferers in our area is tree pollen. The tree pollen count for this week in western Massachusetts is 3,946, according to Berkshire Allergy Care in Pittsfield. Anything above a count of 1,501 is considered ‘very high.’

Nancy Olson, a technician with Berkshire Allergy Care, told 22News this week’s count is a drastic jump from last week’s count of 188. That’s why it may seem like all your allergy symptoms started all of a sudden.

“It’s very high now, there’s five different trees blooming all at once,” Olson explained. “Over 20 years I’ve seen a big difference. It seems like more trees bloom all at once because we have such wet, cold springs, and then when it does get warm everything pops.”

Counting Pollen

Olson counts pollen weekly, which is no easy task. She begins the process by preparing an adhesive slide and placing it into a machine that sucks in the air over a 24-hour period.

The next day she takes the slide, now filled with pollen, and brings it to her office at Berkshire Allergy Care, where it is stained and placed under a microscope.

Now, the tedious part. Olson counts each particle of pollen on the slide and keeps track of which particle comes from which type of tree. This week’s slide had approximately 1,700 particles of pollen on it, all of which she counted herself. That number is then put into a mathematical formula to get the final number.

Pollen Allergies

Berkshire Allergy Care Dr. Charmi Patel told 22News having the pollen count helps her better deal with her patients.

“If the count is very high, patients can have more symptoms,” Patel said. “So the pollen count not only helps us with the pollen burden, but also what types of pollen and what seasons could be bad for patients.”

Patel said tree pollen season came a little later this year due to the long winter and wet beginning of spring.

Although tree pollen season will be coming to an end soon, next up will be grass pollen. 

Here are ways Dr. Patel says you can avoid pollen and its potential impacts:

  • Wear sunglasses
  • Drive with windows up
  • Wear a hat outside
  • Shower before bed
  • Wipe off pets before they go inside

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