High pollen count forecast in Wakefield, Pontefract and Castleford as 'pollen bomb' hits the UK - what it means for you
Whilst many people are welcoming the arrival of the sun after an unseasonably rainy May, for those with allergies, the high pollen count that comes with the warmer temperatures is anything but good news.
Grass pollen levels are reaching their peak, and the Met Office is forecasting a high pollen count in Wakefield and the Five Towns for the next five days.
A pollen bomb is set to explode across England whilst temperatures remain high.
A high grass pollen level is anything above 61 pollen grains per cubic metre (PPM), with the following forecast for Wakefield by the Kleenex Pollen Checker:
Thursday - 241 PPM
Friday - 193 PPM
Saturday - 223 PPM
Sunday - 158 PPM
Monday - 259 PPM
Though pollen levels are high in Wakefield, elsewhere in the country, particularly in the South and the Midlands they are considerably more severe.
The pollen peak in June can be masked by how wet, dry, warm or cold it is, according to the Met Office, but the hot weather we are currently experiencing can intensify the pollen count.
What is pollen?
Pollen grains produce male gametes - i.e. sperm cells. The granules find their way to the female parts of the same plants, eventually resulting in fertilization.
To the naked eye, it is a fine and powdery yellow substance but an individual grain can usually only be observed with a microscope.
Pollen typically gets moved around by insects, wind, and water.
Plants can release billions of grains at once time - all nature’s method of ensuring they reach female plants.
What is a pollen bomb?
Plants generally require a period of cold then warm weather before they flower.
However after a long winter, this process can happen very quickly as plants that usually flower in the spring do so in summer alongside all the others that usually flower at that time.
This 'condensed spring' causes much more pollen to be produced in a short space of time.
How does pollen affect allergy sufferers?
Pollen can trigger a reaction called allergic rhinitis, - inflammation of the nasal lining, more commonly known as hay fever.
According to Allergy UK, 10-15 per cent of children and 26 per cent of adults in the UK suffer from it.
Allergic rhinitis happens when the body makes antibodies to harmless airborne allergens such as pollen or pet dander when they are breathed in.
How long is pollen season?
Though pollen levels are highest in the summer months, pollens of one species or another are present in the environment from January to October.
Levels are highest at the start of the day when pollen rises with the warming air and again at the end of the day when it gets cooler.
Tree pollen tends to be seen from January to May, then grass pollen through the summer and weed pollen in late summer through to October.
What can you do to reduce symptoms?
According to Allergy UK these are some things you can do to help with pollen allergy:
- Monitor pollen forecasts daily and stay indoors wherever possible when the count is high (generally on warmer, dry days).
- On high pollen days, shower and wash your hair after arriving home and change your clothing
- Avoid drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high
- Apply an effective allergen barrier balm around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollens and other allergens and help prevent a reaction.
What can you do to treat symptoms?
The NHS suggest:
- put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
- wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
- keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
- vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
- buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
If symptoms persist, speak to a pharmacist or your GP.