Extreme pollen counts recorded for start of spring
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Extreme pollen counts recorded for start of spring

There's been an extreme start to the allergy season in Canberra with several days of high-pollen levels recorded, and experts are warning there could be more to come.

According to data from air monitoring app AirRater, Canberra saw more than 10 days straight of extreme pollen levels since September 19.

Ruben Williams and Daniel Ivanoff enjoying rolling down the hills at Reconciliation Place. Grass pollen levels are expected to increase in coming weeks.

Ruben Williams and Daniel Ivanoff enjoying rolling down the hills at Reconciliation Place. Grass pollen levels are expected to increase in coming weeks.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

A high-pollen day is classed as 100 grains of pollen in a cubic metre of air. During the 10-day period, five of those days recorded a pollen count of more than 600 and two had a count of more than 1000.

The highest pollen count recorded in Canberra during the 2017 season was 287.

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Pollen expert from the Australian National University Simon Haberle, who runs Canberra Pollen Count, said grass pollen levels are expected to pick up during the second half of spring.

"Most of the pollen comes from trees in August and September, and now that's coming to an end, we're moving into the grass pollen season, which starts around this week," Professor Haberle said.

Pollen expert Simon Haberle.

Pollen expert Simon Haberle. Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

"We've had some really extreme days in terms of total pollen so far this year, and most of it relates to European trees.

"If you're suffering from hay fever and asthma at the moment and feeling the effects of it, it's probably relating to tree pollen because it's quite prominent."

Professor Haberle said compared to other capital cities, Canberra is more susceptible to high levels of pollen due to it being inland.

While there may be several days of high-pollen levels ahead, Professor Haberle said grass-pollen conditions aren't expected to be as severe as previous years due to the drought.

"The tree pollen is very strong, but we anticipate grass pollen won't be as bad this year because we had a dry summer last year and a dry winter," Professor Haberle said.

"However, we have had some recent rain so we don't know how the rest of the season will turn out."

Judi Wicking from the National Asthma Council of Australia said the recent high-pollen conditions have been a reminder for asthma suffers to update their contingency plans.

"Hay fever and asthma symptoms can happen to anyone at any age, and at this time of year, the symptoms can be problematic," Ms Wicking said.

"No matter what is happening, it's important for anyone that suffers from these symptoms to be prepared."

Andrew Brown is a journalist at the Sunday Canberra Times. Andrew has worked at the Canberra Times since 2016.

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