Colourful spring flowers and trees bloom as people visit the arboretum in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Experts say higher than normal pollen levels have led to a snifflier allergy season in parts of Canada this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Colourful spring flowers and trees bloom as people visit the arboretum in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Experts say higher than normal pollen levels have led to a snifflier allergy season in parts of Canada this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

High pollen levels to blame for worse allergy season, experts say

Reports of runnier noses and itchier throats aren’t just anecdotal — they’re borne out by the numbers

Experts say higher than normal pollen levels have led to a sneezier allergy season in parts of Canada this year.

They point to an earlier blossom and warmer May, which led to an explosion of pollen in southern Ontario and Quebec.

A thin coat of yellow dust has blanketed much of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Chris Scott, chief meteorologist at the Weather Network, says he can’t recall ever before seeing pollen accumulate on his car the way it has this year.

He says the weather has had something to do with the amount of pollen out there.

Temperatures remained cool throughout much of April before quickly warming up in May, and Scott says it was like “the switch flipped.”

“It’s probably one of the quickest I’ve seen vegetation just go from buds on a tree to full leaf, where within about 10 days, all of that happens,” he said. “That spring greenup happened very quickly…and so it’s producing all of the pollen that we saw this month.”

Reports of runnier noses and itchier throats aren’t just anecdotal — they’re borne out by the numbers, said Daniel Coates, the director of the Ottawa-based Aerobiology Research Laboratories.

Montreal saw pollen levels of roughly 29,000 grains per cubic metre during parts of May, he said, compared to about 16,000 grains per cubic metre over the last five years or so.

The contrast is even starker when compared to last year, when pollen levels were at just 6,000 grains per cubic metre, Coates said.

He said other parts of the country — such as the Atlantic provinces — are also seeing higher pollen levels than normal, but not to the same extent as Ontario and Quebec.

In addition to the warmer temperatures, the lack of precipitation has added to the pollen problems in central Canada, he said.

“Rain washes the pollen out of the air,” he said, noting that allergy-sufferers should take advantage of the time right after it rains to get outside without having to worry about runny noses or itchy throats.

“For all the allergy sufferers, the best thing to do is avoid it,” Coates said. “And the best way to avoid it is to know what’s in the air.”

He recommended checking the daily pollen levels online.

But beyond the weather, Coates said, urban planning also has an effect on allergies.

“Cities like to plant male trees,” he said. “…Female trees make fruits and flowers, and then they fall and make messes. Male trees don’t, but they really affect allergy-sufferers.”

Ultimately, Coates said, it’s normal for pollen levels to fluctuate, and it’s not a sign of the “pollen apocalypse.”

“Mother Nature’s just doing her thing,” he said.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

Weather

Just Posted

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu supported a motion in the B.C. legislature for Canada to create a national Indigenous History month Monday, June 13, 2021. (Contributed)
Canada needs a national Indigenous History Month, Vernon MLA agrees

Harwinder Sandhu supports motion to recognize June as month to advance reconciliation efforts with First Nations

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue will allow restaurants and other businesses to extend their patios onto the street. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Green light given to downtown Vernon road closure

Single block of 30th Avenue to close over summer months to boost business

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

A crash at the intersection of Harvey Avenue and Leckie Road on June 15. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
Traffic stalled by Harvey Avenue crash in Kelowna

One lane is open as crews clean up after crash at Harvey Avenue and Leckie Road

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Facebook)
New trial date set for Penticton beach attacker’s triple assault charges

May trial was delayed after Crown witnesses failed to show up

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Graduating Grade 12 student Savannah Lamb has been awarded an approximate $40,000 scholarship from the Beedie Luminaries foundation. (Contributed)
Dedicated Salmon Arm student earns scholarship to pursue post-secondary education

Savannah Lamb is graduating from Salmon Arm Secondary with a $40,000 scholarship

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A provided photo of the suspect. (Kelowna RCMP/Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP investigating after business robbed

An undisclosed amount of money and merchandise were taken from the business

Travel Penticton went to city council for support in increasing the tax on short-term stays to fund a convention bureau and affordable housing. (File photo)
Travel Penticton seeks to grow through increased hotel tax

The increased funds would go to creating a convention bureau and to affordable housing

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read