Canberra records the highest pollen levels in 10 years (and more is on the way)

A stream of pollen on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin

A stream of pollen on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Photo: Simon Haberle.

Just when the Canberrans might have thought they were out of the woods when it comes to hay fever, chances are the itchy eyes and stuffy noses came back with a vengeance last week.

If you suffer from hay fever, the bad news is that there are two pollen seasons in ACT.

The grass pollen season has been slow this year, with low levels recorded through the first two weeks of October. All that changed last week as grass pollen levels rose to high and extreme levels.

Last Friday (October 29), ACT recorded the highest grass pollen count in the last 10 years.

The second pollen season – tree pollen season – generally runs between September and October, while the grasses emit their annoying pollen and dust from October to December.

According to data collected by the local pollen monitoring site, Canberra Pollen, the tree pollen season broke records this year, starting up to 10 days earlier than in previous years.

The grass pollen level suddenly rose from 27 October and reached new heights on 29 October, when more than 200 grains were measured per hectare. cubic meters of air. This rough start is more than a week earlier than the first extreme grass pollen day recorded last year.

Let Professor Simon know

Professor Simon Haberle predicts another bumper pollen season for Canberra. Photo: Jamie Kidston / ANU.

Australian National University (ANU) professor and leading pollen expert Simon Haberle runs the Canberra Pollen website and its associated app with support from ANU.

Professor Haberle says the slow start to this year’s grass pollen season can best be explained by the cooler daily maximum temperatures in October (2 degrees Celsius cooler in 2021 than at the same time in 2020), combined with high rainfall throughout the winter and into spring.

During the last 10 years of sample collection, 2020 also proved to be a record grass pollen season, while levels were at their lowest in 2017.

“This year’s grass pollen season is most similar to that of 2014, when Canberra Pollen recorded a rapid increase in grass pollen around the end of October,” says Professor Haberle.

“In 2014, a stretch with high and extreme grass pollen days was also recorded in late October, which may have contributed to an increase in asthma-related presentations to Canberra Hospital on October 26.”


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Professor Haberle says Canberra Pollen will continue to monitor daily grass pollen counts to see if the season is developing as it did in 2014, or if it matches or exceeds what was recorded in 2020.

“At least it looks like we’re in a new year with grass pollen.”

This is bad news for Australia’s allergy capital ‘, which was already suffering from three extreme tree pollen counts in early August.

One in three people in Canberra suffers from a form of allergic rhinitis, which costs the local economy at least $ 170 million a year because of its impact on health and productivity.

Professor Haberle, who operates under the name The one that pollen pine on social media, says he wants to “clear the air” for allergy sufferers by mapping and tracking pollen risks across Canberra.

The maps look at garden plants and street plants to depict which parts of Canberra may be worse for allergy sufferers.

To download the app, search the Canberra Pollen Count.

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