Surprise, NJ! Here’s what could be causing your sneezing and itchy eyes
This is normally a tough time of year for New Jersey residents who have hay fever, but there’s more going on than you might be aware of .
Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist at the Rutgers University Center for Environmental Prediction, says ragweed is fairly intense right now.
“We’ve had a lot of rain and with that there’s been increasing levels and persistent levels that one would like to have gone away,” he said.
But also there are other types of weeds producing pollen.
“This is the weed season. Besides ragweed, there’s lambsquarters or mugwort, English plantain. There’s several other items that really start to pollinate heavily.”
In addition to the weeds, Bielory says “there’s also a very peculiar aspect to New Jersey: We also see re-pollination or a repeat grass pollen season.”
He explained, “We actually see a considerable amount of grass pollen, not as much as we see in May and June, but it’s clearly a second season, as I call it.”
Bielory said other areas in the Northeast are also experiencing this “second season” of grass pollen.
He said this hay fever season hasn’t been horrible but at times it’s been unpleasant.
“We do get peaks that are quite severe, spikes of pollen that are released, and that has to do with the amount of moisture in the air,” said Bielory.
“We’ve had an incredible amount of moisture, and then the plants continue to grow and continue to produce pollen.”
Wet, heavy air tends to suppress pollen, but when the weather gets hot and dry it will result in a greater amount of pollen being blown every which way.
Bielory says allergic responses to grass and weed pollen are actually a reaction by our immune system to a protein that has a sequence that’s similar to certain parasites, and this can result in many unpleasant symptoms including “sneeze, wheeze and teary eyes, skin hives — some people will even have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.”
He says grass pollen should dissipate in the next 10 days or so, but ragweed and other weeds could continue to produce pollen well into October.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com
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