Mild weather makes for bad allergy season in Metro Vancouver
Ross McLaughlin and Lisa Green, CTV Vancouver
Published Friday, April 15, 2016 5:00AM PDT
If your allergies are bugging you more than usual this year, it’s not your imagination – the pollen count is way up in Metro Vancouver.
“The weather has been optimum for high pollen counts,” said UBC allergist and immunologist Dr. Donald Stark. “We normally get 100 grains per cubic metre, now we're ranging into the thousands per cubic metre so far this year.”
Stark said more pollen means the season started earlier and people’s symptoms are worse, but he has some advice for those who do outdoor activities.
“The pollen counts tend to be worse first thing in the morning so if you are allergic to those pollens, and are symptomatic, perhaps doing physically exertion later in the day when the pollen counts are a little bit less might be helpful,“ Stark told CTV News.
Doing less activity on nicer days, which are worse for allergy sufferers, is also another potential workaround, he added.
“Perhaps doing more exercise when the weather's not so pleasant might be useful,” said Stark.
And don’t blame the cherry blossoms. Stark said people tend to blame the trees they can see and smell but it’s the windborn pollens like Alder and Birch that cause the problems.
And the allergens don’t just lurk outside, they come inside too. Consumer Reports recommends air purifiers for removing pollen and dust. They tested their effectiveness in a sealed chamber, and rated a $329 Honeywell among the top portable air cleaners.
"If you have a heating or cooling system that is forced-air, you may want to opt for a thicker filter, which we found more effective. But it may require professional installation," said Dave Trezza from Consumer Reports.
He recommends a $42 Filtrete Healthy Living Filter that’s available online.
Vacuuming is also a good way to cut down on inside allergens but they can also kick up dust, making matters worse.
Consumer Reports found the Hoover Windtunnel Max for $240 was very good for emissions.
“Dust mites and animals tend to be the worst offenders for indoor allergies,” said Stark.
The bed is a dust mite breeding ground. Stark and Consumer Reports both recommend washing sheets weekly in hot water and running them through a hot dryer.
“Anywhere you're sitting or lying for extended periods of time, dust mites can build up. a fabric based couch or chair could be a source of dust mites as well,” added Stark.
It’s recommended people cover box springs, mattresses and pillowcases with a tightly woven fabric that’s dust mite proof.
And think about pet control to cut down on pollen from getting inside.
“Keeping the dog or cat out of the bedrooms may be helpful,” advised Stark.
Stark also recommends vacuuming your pet to keep them from bringing outside allergens into the house.
”As they come in the door, if you have a little vacuum cleaning there, that might help keep the pollen counts down from the animal,” said Stark.
It’s also recommended you keep your home very clean, ban smoking and make sure you’re space is well ventilated with exhaust hood or fans in the kitchen and bathroom.