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Pollen

If you suffer with hay fever it is important for you to know how much pollen is in the air so you can make arrangements to minimise the impact.

You may be allergic to one or to several types of pollen with grass pollen being the most frequent cause – about 90 per cent of all sufferers.

Other pollen allergens include those from trees such as birch, alder and hazel and weeds such as docks and nettles.

Measuring pollen
We measure pollen via a trap on the roof of our Witham offices. We set the traps at this height so the airflow we monitor contains a good mix of local and distant pollen sources.

We capture the pollen particles sucked into the trap on adhesive tape mounted on a rotating drum.

The tape is exchanged daily. After exposure it is prepped with a bright pink staining agent, put on to a microscope slide and the pollen grains are then counted.

Reporting and forecasting
We report the results as grains of (grass) pollen per cubic metre of air and then forecast of the pollen count for the following day using meteorological information and the trend from previous counts.

We then pass the forecast, which is valid for a 25-mile radius, on to the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, which then makes it available to the Press Association for inclusion in media reports.

How to help yourself
If you regularly check the pollen forecast then there are two main ways to minimise the symptoms of hay fever -

  • avoid the allergens 
  • control with medication such as antihistamines and corticosteroids

 A few handy hints

  • if possible avoid going out at peak pollen times usually the morning from 7am to 10 am and late afternoon 4pm to 7pm
  • change clothes and wash hair etc after being out
  • avoid drying washing outside on high pollen count days
  • cover bed and desks when not in use and carefully remove covers when you want to use the area
  • wear sunglasses and a broad brimmed hat
  • Brush or wash your pets to rid their fur of pollen
  • Drive with the windows closed, service your car air filter regularly where possible drive a car with a good pollen filter
  • talk to you GP or pharmacist about treatments and remedies
  • for some respite, close the windows and doors of a room. Sit still and in about 25 minutes most of the pollen in the room will have settled so you will be breathing pollen free air

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