March 21, 2007
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
Phone: (973) 972-3000
March Madness Pollen Burst 2007 Starts This Week
NEWARK — Can you predict the outcome of March Madness? A noted allergist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has a prediction, but it is based on an upcoming surge in the pollen count, not the March Madness associated with the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
“Although we have traces of snow on the ground, today is the first day of Spring and the beginning of the March Madness Pollen Burst for New Jersey and Manhattan,” said Dr. Leonard Bielory, director of the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. “This year, the pollen count is likely to double last year’s count and many people will start experiencing symptoms this weekend.”
Dr. Bielory oversees the state's premier and oldest pollen-counting site, which is located at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Located on the rooftop of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School overlooking downtown Newark and facing the Manhattan skyline, the pollen counter is a small advance-collection device that sits on a metal scaffold anchored by concrete blocks. The pollen counter has two greased rods that spin for 30 seconds every 10 minutes. As samples of air float by, the pollen sticks to the rods. Each morning, from Monday through Friday, the pollen is microscopically examined for several hours and calculated as pollen or mold grains per cubic meter of air.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, affects more than 20 percent of the population in the United States. Allergies are triggered by substances called allergens, such as pollen or mold spores.
According to Dr. Bielory, pollen is the male reproductive component of the plant system. Airborne pollen and mold spores from trees, grass, and weeds can trigger symptoms between early spring through the first frost. Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, congestion, runny nose, headache, watery eyes, itchy nose, mouth, throat, eyes, and ears. Three elements contribute significantly to the rising pollen count and the growth of mold spores: the amount of sunlight, moisture from snow or rain, and an increase in temperature.
“Check pollen counts daily and consult your allergist about pre-treating your symptoms today,” said Dr. Bielory, who is the only governor-appointed physician to represent the public as a member of the New Jersey Clean Air Council of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “Minimize outdoor activity, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when pollen counts peak.”
Prescription medications, histamine injections, over-the-counter medications and herbal nasal sprays may be beneficial. Dr. Bielory also offers the following suggestions on coping with allergy season:
· DO keep windows closed to prevent pollen or mold spores from drifting into your home. If needed, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.
· DO keep your car windows closed when traveling. Use air conditioners and point the vent away from your face.
· After outdoor activity, DO keep pets off of your furniture and out of the bedroom.
· DO take the recommended dosage of the medications prescribed by your allergist or medical provider. DON'T take more medication than recommended in an attempt to lessen your symptoms.
· DON'T hang sheets and clothes outside to dry because they are likely to collect pollen and mold.
· DON'T grow too many, or over-water, indoor plants if you are allergic to mold. Wet soil encourages mold growth.
· DON’T use window fans because they may draw pollen inside your home.
An updated pollen count is available from Monday through Friday by calling the Asthma and Allergy Research Center’s Hotline, which is located at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, at 973-972-6518. State and federal environment authorities have supported and recognized the center as a leader in asthma and allergy.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.