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Knockout pollen count plaguing Pima County

Citizen Staff Writer



Juniper and ash pollen, mixed with mold, are to blame for the sneezing and sniffling in Tucson.

“On a sneeze scale, I’d put it at an 8 out of 10,” said Mark Sneller, owner of Aero Allergen Research and the sole pollen counter in Pima County.

He said pollen counts over the weekend were twice that of the same weekend a year ago.

On Monday he counted 330 pollen grains per cubic meter of air. Some 15 pollen types were represented in that count, with the biggest culprits being juniper and ash trees.

During the last weekend of February 2008, the pollen counts ranged from 131 to 164 grains per cubic meter of air.

“With all this really warm weather, we are going to have an early season,” Sneller said. “(The pollen count) will be shooting up.”

Sneller said Italian cypress is also causing some problems for those with allergies, while the big allergens, mulberry and ragweed, haven’t started to make an impact yet.

Some with allergies say that their stand-by medications aren’t doing the job this year.

Elena Waller, 39, of Tempe said she’s “tried everything over-the-counter” and nothing is stopping her sneezing binges. Davell Logan, 32, of Mesa, said that typically he can take an antihistamine a couple of times a week and his allergies are fine. This year, he said nothing gets rid of the sniffling, sneezing, runny nose, plugged ears and tiredness.

“The fatigue part just drained me down,” he said.

Dr. Randy Horwitz, medical director of the Arizona Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, said that he doesn’t recommend over-the-counter medications and that most allergy sufferers would find a measurable amount of relief in performing a nasal irrigation to clean out the sinuses. Nasal irrigators can be found at most pharmacies, he said.

Both Horwitz and Sneller recommend protecting the home against pollens by running the air conditioner instead of opening windows, leaving shoes at the door so pollen isn’t tracked inside, and replacing filters in heaters and air conditioners.

“Now is not a good time to open up the home for whatever purpose,” Sneller said.

The Arizona Republic contributed to this article.

Tips for allergy sufferers

• Identify what triggers your allergies with a medical test. Try to avoid those things.

• Take medications before leaving home.

• Keep doors and windows closed.

• Shower after being outside. You are covered in allergens when you come in. Wash bedding, pajamas and clothes as much as possible.

• Keep eye drops and decongestants around.

Source: WebMD

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