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Allergy Season Hits Early And Hard In Southern Nevada This Year

tanvi_patel_pollen.jpg

R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services

Tanvi Patel, head of the UNLV Pollen Monitoring Program, collects samples from a monitoring station atop the university’s White Hall.

Southern Nevada’s allergy season, already one of the worst in the country, got an early start this year.

Lots of winter rain and early warm weather have put the Las Vegas pollen counts at levels not usually seen until mid-spring, said Tanvi Patel, who runs the UNLV Pollen Monitoring Program, a partnership with the Clark County School District.

Patel oversees the collection and study of pollen from five monitoring stations in Southern Nevada — four in urban Las Vegas and one in the desert near Jean, which provides a control reading.

Patel said the collectors take in pollen throughout the day so researchers can see when the peaks occur. The samples are then taken back to the lab where they are counted by hand to determine what species are blooming and how much of it is in the air. 

European olive and fruitless mulberry trees, used in Las Vegas landscapes until the 1990s because of their drought tolerance, are among the worst offenders when it comes to pollen production.

Those trees are now outlawed in the city, but older neighborhoods like downtown and areas near UNLV still have old trees that send off plumes of pollen in the spring.

Allergy season lasts until temperatures regularly reach 90 and above.

"At higher temperatures the pollen doesn’t stay in the air as much," Patel said, "It starts to disintegrate and there’s not a reaction." 

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When the hot weather breaks in the fall, it’s time for the area’s second yearly bout with allergies, this one caused largely by ragweed.

For allergy sufferers, experts advise taking an allergy pill at night so you're not waiting for the pill to kick in when you're trying to get up and moving in the morning. They also say you should change your clothes as soon as you get home in the evening to avoid more contact with pollen that's on the clothes you wore outside and wash your hair before you go to bed to avoid pollen getting on your pillow. And although everyone loves the beautiful spring sunshine and fresh air, close your windows in your car and in your home. 

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Tanvi Patel, head of the UNLV Pollen Monitoring Program

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