Allergy season getting longer across north Georgia, doctor says

Bad news, allergy sufferers – doctors say the season is getting longer across north Georgia.

With tree pollen peaking now, and grass and weed pollen still to come, the number of months allergy sufferers are sniffling and sneezing is increasing across metro Atlanta.

Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist at Atlanta Allergy and Asthma, says allergy season is now in full swing. Pollen counts are now regularly in the high to extremely high range.

Just last week, north Georgia had the highest count in nearly three years at about 4,500.

"The pollen count really reflects the number of pollen grains in a cubic meter of air over a 24-hour period so a cubic meter is like the size of a printer box,” Fineman said about how the pollen count is measured.

Fineman said our warmer-than-average winters, like this past one, are playing a big role in the amount of time those with allergies suffer.

“What we're seeing, over the last 10 years, is that the season's getting longer partially because it’s getting a little warmer earlier. So we're seeing a longer pollen season, and partially it's because of the warmth,” he said.


In the next couple of weeks, tree pollen will peak, but that's not the end of allergy season by a long shot.

"We typically start to see tree pollens start to fall in mid-April toward late April, but at that time is when we see the grass pollens increasing,” Fineman said.

Most of the contributors to allergy season are plants native to Georgia, but Fineman told Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan that they've seen some interesting trends in recent years about plants not native to Georgia impacting allergy suffers.

"A few years ago we saw an uptick in tree pollen, Chinese elm pollen to be specific, in the fall, which is very unusual because usually we see tree pollen in the spring,” Fineman said.

Fineman and researchers from UGA and Emory discovered that non-native plants, like the Chinese elm, often end up here for their looks.

"We saw that it's being used as an ornamental here in Atlanta. That means that landscaping companies are planting it on purpose because it's a hardy tree, it's a pretty tree,” he said.

But that “pretty tree” is creating new allergies.