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Tree pollen levels are way up in NJ, leading to allergy misery for many

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As trees all over New Jersey start to flower, many Garden State residents are suffering severe allergy symptoms

“We’re seeing an overlap of several pollens that normally spread their wings, so to speak, over time,” said allergy expert Leonard Bielory, a professor with the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University.

“Everybody that has any mild allergies are going to have moderate to severe symptoms, and they’re going to get more severe this coming week.”

He explained tree pollen levels begin to rise around the second week in March, with elm, cedar and maple pollen being released. But this year, “what we’re seeing is that they got crunched, there was a heavy snowfall, then rain, so that shut things down, and what’s happening is that everything is now starting to pollinate at the same time.”

He also pointed out birch and oak tree pollination is overlapping, which makes allergic reaction to them more intense.

“The result is people that have mild allergies to one and mild allergies to the other are being more symptomatic because they have A and B,” he said.

“All of the precipitation we’ve had has produced great nutrient, great fodder for the trees to maximize their pollination, and they are going to be doing it at will for this entire week.”

Bielory explained the tree pollen being released causes nasal and ocular distress, but also “itching down the back of the throat. Because of the increase in pollen we’re seeing at this point in time.”

He predicted some relief by the middle of April, when pollen levels for some trees will begin to drop.

Bielory noted over the past 25 years “there’s actually been a doubling of individuals who are allergic, meaning the number used to be 20 percent, now we’re at 30 to 40 percent of the United States population have allergies. And they used to be allergic to two or three items, now they’re allergic to six or eight items.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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