What's making you sneeze? The pollen monitoring team at UNLV knows


AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

A bee gathers pollen from a blooming lotus flower at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

As plants across Nevada bloom, as spring winds blow everything everywhere, we’re starting to feel it, and hear it.

Watery, bloodshot eyes, wheezing and sneezing fits at the office.

That’s on top of Clark County’s first-ever, season-long smoke and ozone advisory.

Keeping track of all of this is Asma Tahir, who supervises the Pollen Monitoring Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Each pollen follows a different pattern, she said. “This year we noticed that olive actually arrived earlier,” she said, and typically, it arrives before mulberry. “It's going to affect people with allergies in a significant way.”

The good news? Southern Nevada’s scorching temperatures help clear up your allergies. She said when the area hits the low 90s, that’s when allergies tend to go away, but it depends on what’s blooming and the wind. 

Their program at UNLV began in 2014, funded by a school district grant. They use six devices called barcode samplers around the valley to collect pollen, but only the station on campus is certified by the National Allergy Bureau. The other stations are on four school, in the desert and in Jean.

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Pollen samples are collected every day of the year. 

“There are people who are aware of this, and they do call us on a regular basis,” Tahir said. “When they Google searches, our name comes up, and people call us when they are planning to move to Las Vegas. They would like to know what kind of pollen is in their zip code.”

For more information on the program, click here.

Clark County just launched its first season-long ozone and wildfire smoke advisory, which is active now through Sept. 30.

Joram Seggev is a retired allergist and immunologist who volunteers at UNLV. He said allergy sufferers will have a worse time with air pollution, but nearly anyone can be affected depending on concentration and length of exposure. 

His recommendation is to get ahead of it with over-the-counter antihistamines, or using a nasal saline. “One of the most important functions of the nose is to stop things from getting into the lungs,” he said.

Inside your home, he said you can use HEPA air filters that are washed. If you’re a morning runner, use a mask and sunglasses to keep pollen out. 


Asma Tahir, pollen program supervisor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Joram Seggev, allergist and immunologist

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