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How pollen levels are measured

Silicone and a little grease; these two things help measure just how bad our allergies will be on a given day.

MOLINE, Ill. — If you've been stuck in a sneezing rut the last few weeks, you are not alone! We're in the midst of tree pollen season here in the Quad Cities which will soon transition to grass pollen in the coming weeks. It's all part of a natural cycle that we observe each spring and summer, one that research has shown is becoming longer with each passing year. 

So, how exactly do we go about measuring the pollen levels? Let's dig in!

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the government does not measure pollen, only air pollution. That means we rely on private companies to provide accurate and reliable pollen data. 

Credit: Ebay.com

In order to measure it, these companies often use a device called a "rotorod". Given its appearance, the name makes sense. It is a rotating rod that contains a silicone stick that is often coated with grease to attract particles of pollen floating through the air. 

After a certain period of time, the sticks are removed and then analyzed to determine the pollen count. The count is then converted into units of grains per cubic meter of air before being broken down into a generalized scale of high, medium, and low, depending on the thresholds that are set. 

Some helpful tips when it comes to dealing with allergy season

  • Shower at night in order to remove any pollen that is sitting on your skin.
  • Close windows and use air conditioning.
  • Wash everything clothing-wise, including your washing machine, too!

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