Grass-pollen season likely has peaked

The Grand Valley likely hit the peak of grass-pollen season this week, signaling the start of relief for some summer allergy sufferers.

Grand Junction had its worst tree pollen season in a decade this spring, climbing above the “very high” pollen count benchmark of 1,500 pollen grains per cubic meter of air to hit 2,600 tree pollen grains per cubic meter at its peak in mid-April. The average tree pollen season in Grand Junction peaks at 500 grains per cubic meter.

While this week’s grass-pollen count was high, it fell plenty short of setting any records. Monday’s sample by the Mesa County Health Department found 30 grass-pollen grains per cubic meter and Thursday’s sample had 20 grains per cubic meter, meeting the threshold for a “high” pollen count. It would take 200 grains per cubic meter to get to “very high” levels.

The highest grass-pollen count ever recorded in the city was 75 pollen grains per cubic meter in June 2010, according to Mesa County Air Quality Specialist Ed Brotsky.

Brotsky said windy conditions likely contributed to higher counts this week for grass pollen. He believes counts will keep trending down because this is typically the time when grass pollen peaks, usually at an average of 17 grass pollen grains per cubic meter.

Tree pollen is still present at high levels but Brotsky said 90 percent of that pollen is from pine trees, which few people find allergenic. Tree pollen usually appears in February and is gone by the end of July while grass pollen counts trend up in April and taper off in October.

Brotsky said it’s too early to tell what will happen with the third and final pollen culprit, weeds, but weed pollen is already trending above average this year. Weed pollen’s prime season is April through November, typically with one mini-peak in mid-June and another, much larger peak in late August or early September.

Weed pollen is at “moderate” levels now between 35 and 40 pollen grains per cubic meter, above the average of 20 to 25 grains per cubic meter at this time of year. Anything above 50 grains per cubic meter is considered “high” for weed pollen.

Weed pollen, on average, peaks at between 75 and 80 pollen grains per cubic meter in the Grand Valley.

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