DC-area tree pollen levels are on the rise

Close view of branch of Port Orford cedar(Getty Images/iStockphoto/apugach)
Well, the warmer weather is not all good news, as the region now faces an all-too-familiar friend: pollen.

Susan Kosisky, a microbiologist who specializes in pollen research, told WTOP that levels of tree pollen have already begun to creep up in the region, thanks to a few early arrivals to the party that is spring in the D.C. area.

Coniferous trees such as cedar, cypress and juniper are the primary offenders at this point in the year.

“That family just pollinates earlier than some of the other trees, and when they’re ready to flower, they can explode,” Kosisky said. “The last 24-hour count has been quite high.”

For those wondering if the warmer weather is to blame for this round of pollen, Kosisky said this is just what this family of trees does. The pollen count from cedar, cyprus and juniper trees usually begins to spike between mid-February to the first week of April, according to Kosisky.

“This year, they’re sort of on-target — folks were sniffling and sneezing and bothered probably by some of their allergies yesterday,” she said.

Kosisky said that there are slightly higher levels of grass pollen than usual for this time of year, but that most of it is probably being carried in from the south.

There are steps to take to avoid bearing the brunt of tree pollen season.

“Once tree season starts, modify those outdoor activities, and if [you] are out — especially on a windy day — wear sunglasses to keep the pollen blowing around out of the eyes,” Kosisky said.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

Close view of branch of Port Orford cedar(Getty Images/iStockphoto/apugach)
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