National Bike Month & Avoid Grass Pollen Month

My father in law is in his 80's and is, to this day, an avid biker. He pointed out to me that May is National Bike Month. Turns out May is also Avoid Grass Pollen Month, Asthma Allergy & Awareness Month too. Could it be that May is the month we completely shake off Winter's chill and begin to embrace our lawns, our petunias, our skateboards and fishing tackle? Bike racks get ratched down onto hatchbacks and off into the suburbs and wilderness we go. If only it were that easy and fun for everyone.…

Nose Network

Your nose knows, as they say. Yesterday my son told me he went through three rolls of toilet paper trying to get the congestion out of his sinuses and nose. Five hundred-ish meters to take care of the discharge from an angry nose. That's a lot of work for a sniffer, and although it may not be happy about it, the sneezing and goo are doing their jobs. When something that doesn't belong there ends up mired somewhere between our nostrils and sinuses, an allergic response can occur. Our noses, in a way, are amazing…

Freedom of Breath

I'll be half a century old soon. It's a lovely Spring afternoon on a college campus in the Rocky Mountains, and that reality is hammered home as I wander with my student son among other 20-somethings. They carry stacks of books from their biochem lecture, through the art gallery and up the stairs to a quiet corner where they'll meet someone to cuddle or text unbothered. Most do this with abundant spring in their step. Some, who are less fortunate, have spring in their lungs. Pollen has made their allergies or asthma a nuisance or…

Dodging Pollen is Not a Game but it Still Feels Great

Pollen fires up my hay fever, and I do what I can to avoid exposure. I've learned that the less time I'm exposed to the lowest concentrations, the better I'll feel, and the longer I'll feel it. I should drive down the road, windows rolled up, buckled tight against those pollen particles that are determined to find their way to my sinuses. That would indeed help me feel better longer. But on a pleasant Spring evening, I'm channeling James Dean, and by golly I'd like to know if more than love is in the air…

Cops and Pollen

I recently drove to Albuquerque, New Mexico to discuss automated pollen sensing with their city air-quality folks. Google maps was helping me get there, when I heard a voice coming from my phone telling me there was a speed trap ahead. Wow. I don't have a lead foot, but it was a nice reminder to check my speed and make sure I wasn't at risk for a ticket. As the cursor on the highway got nearer to the place where the speed trap was supposed to be, sure enough: a state trooper lay in ambush!…

CSTE 2019 Abstract

Allergic respiratory disease places an increasingly large burden on public health systems as its prevalence within the U.S. population and worldwide has steadily increased over the past few decades. Contributing to the increases are elevated personal exposures to aeroallergens as plants respond to extended growing seasons and increased levels of carbon dioxide by producing more pollen with elevated allergenicity. Despite the importance of personal exposure to aeroallergens, there is no coordinated network that can provide aeroallergen data on geographical or temporal scales meaningful to individuals so they can make decisions to decrease their personal exposure.…

Proximity Dosage

In Search of Pollen One of my favorite pollen excursions was when I went in search of mountain cedar trees in Northern Arkansas. Before I tell the story, let give you some insider information: Mountain cedar trees release pollen (pollinate) in December and January and are a big allergy/asthma/health problem in Southern Oklahoma, Dallas, and The Hill Country of Texas. The trees are in little pockets in Northern Arkansas but this is not well known and they aren’t considered much of a problem for allergy sufferers in that region because there are so few of…

Check Your Surfaces

Tedious Field Work When I was studying pollen at the University of Tulsa (go Golden Hurricane!) one of my tasks was to estimate the amount of pollen produced in a mountain cedar forest. To do that, you must first know that mountain cedars are dioecious, meaning that there are male trees and female trees. Since the male flowers produce the pollen, you need to estimate how many male trees there are in a given area. Then you have to estimate the number of male flowers on an average tree (in this case, the flowers are…

Understanding Pollen Data

Finding Good Information My friends and acquaintances know that I am a bit of a pollen geek. Every spring, at least a few people will come to me with blood shot eyes and a runny nose and ask, “What is in the air right now? It’s killing me!” They ask because they are lucky to know me, but what if you weren’t lucky, and didn’t know me, what would you find if you did an internet search? You can see in the screenshot below what I found: So let’s talk about the results and the…

Knowledge Reduces Suffering

It’s a Trap! On my first day in the “field” as a PhD student, my advisor and I pulled up to Camp Classen, a YMCA camp in the rolling Arbuckle Mountains of south central Oklahoma. We were there scouting juniper trees, the subject of my dissertation. It was a warm and sunny early December afternoon, and although the leaves had fallen from the oak trees, I marveled at the beauty of this quiet little camp. There were horses, a pond, rustic cabins and thick woods. I was visiting the site because I was about to…