People of Northwest Public Radio
Mon May 7, 2012
Don't Curse The Rain, It Depresses Allergens
Here in the Northwest, you hear lots of complaints about the abundant rain. But this year's cool March weather and above normal rainfall in April may have eased the suffering of people with pollen allergies.
Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond had a personal reason to investigate the correlation between rainfall and pollen.
"I suffer from allergies to alder and birch," he says. "I noticed that when I am usually sneezing and sniffling in mid to late March, there wasn't much of that this year."
So Bond graphed rainfall versus airborne pollen to see if he could discern a trend. Sure enough he says, "On wet days, the pollen counts were something like five times lower than they were in dry periods."
Bond says falling raindrops could scrub pollen from the air. But he believes a bigger factor may be that dampness prevents pollen from becoming airborne in the first place.
A leading allergist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle says heavy rain may provide only "temporary relief." Dr. David Robinson says once the rains let up, grasses and molds grow with a vengeance.
Then for people with those allergies, it's payback time.
On the Web:
Office of the Washington State Climatologist - May 2012 Newsletter (pp. 4-5)
Virginia Mason Medical Center - Health Encyclopedia, Allergies