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

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

sdaf
UPDATE: Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

Festivals Kelowna president Richard Groves and executive director Renata Mills wrap themselves in the flag during the announcement of preparations for the 2018 Canada Day festival. (Alistair Waters/Capital News)
Festivals Kelowna cancels Canada Day celebrations for second year in a row

The group cited logistic issues in their announcement

Central Okanagan Public Schools is assisting with the distribution of a donation of $500 to every Grade 12 graduating student in the school district. (File photo)
Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads get $500 surprise

Anonymous donor gifts $500 to every Grade 12 student

A vehicle was fully engulfed in flames before around 11:10 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kerry Hutter - contributed)
UPDATE: Kelowna man cuffed after carjacking in Vernon

Crime spree: Man robs couple at Coldstream lookout at gunpoint, sets a vehicle ablaze

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

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

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Most Read