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

(Black Press Media file photo)
School parking problems plague Oak Bay residents

Need exceeds official requirements for parking at St. Michaels school

In January 2019, Grade 5 students from Glenlyon Norfolk School, accompanied by Grade 11 student Anastasia Castro, gave a presentation to Oak Bay council seeking a ban on plastic bags in the district. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay set to survey businesses on single-use plastic products

Survey gathers information ahead of expected legislation on provincial, federal level

Brian Korzenowski rides with Athena, left, and Venus who are safely strapped in and goggled up with the wind in their fur. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to Sooke Road commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

Camper the dog was found Wednesday night by someone walking their own dog along Hollywood Crescent. She had gone missing after a violent attack on June 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Camper the dog found safe after fleeing violent van attack in Victoria

Camper was found on Hollywood Crescent Wednesday night

A lift on marine border restrictions by next summer would bring an economic gain to Greater Victoria through the cruise industry. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich calls for opening of marine borders by summer 2022

Council to ask feds to end restrictions in time to allow planning for next cruise ship season

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko, a Vancouver lawyer, has been suspended from practice for two months after admitting that his firm mismanaged $44,353.19 in client trust funds. (Acumen Law)
High-profile B.C. lawyer suspended over $44K in mismanaged client trust funds

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko admits to failing to supervise his staff and find, report the shortage

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
B.C. casino workers laid off during pandemic launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed in Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo against Great Canadian Gaming

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

Most Read