Local Hospital Begins Providing Pollen Count

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Have your spring allergies seemed exceptionally troublesome in the past few days?

It’s a tough time of year for a lot of people dealing with allergy symptoms but one local hospital is keeping tabs on the pollen count and providing the data to the public.

Franca Hahn is typically busy in the Hematology Lab at Waterbury Hospital working as a clinical laboratory scientist. But starting Monday, she’ll be adding “counting pollen” to her list of daily duties.

“A lot of people have allergies and a lot of people like to know whether they take medication,” explains Hahn. “It’s just a nice thing to do for the community. And I think a lot of people appreciate it.”

A pollen counting piece of machinery on the roof of Waterbury Hospital has been measuring pollen for 37 years. It collects a sample of the air every 10 minutes for 24 hours that the hematology lab examines each morning.

Waterbury Hospital is home to the only pollen count center in New England that is certified by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.  Reports on trees, grass, weeds, and mold can be found Monday through Friday on the hospital's website.

"Right now we’re seeing it’s peaking for tree pollen,” Hahn said.

Waterbury Hospital considers any count over 1,500 very high for tree pollen. Monday morning, the pollen count for trees was at 5,325.

“Folks are definitely feeling the allergies right now,” said Pam Angelillo, a registered nurse with UConn Health.  “Pretty miserable. A lot coughing, sneezy, itchy and watery eyes, congestion.”

If your symptoms seem worse than years in the past, you’re not alone.

“It does seem a little worse than years past, for whatever reason,” said Angelillo.  “But I know for myself and my patients the spring is always busy.”

The really dry, windy days we’ve seen as of late typically do result in higher pollen counts. The upcoming rain is expected to provide temporary relief, but it also comes at a price.

“But it also waters everything and helps with the growing process,” Angelillo said.  “So you get a few days of reprieve when it’s raining but for the most part it’ll be followed by dry sunny days.”

Tips to help alleviate allergy symptoms include closing your windows, changing your air filters frequently, taking a shower, and changing your clothes after spending time outside. Adding local honey to your diet can make a difference and the masks we’ve become so accustomed to wearing also help mitigate symptoms.

The pollen count will continue through September.

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