Question Your World: When Does the Ragweed Pollen Count Peak? | Community Idea Stations


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Question Your World: When Does the Ragweed Pollen Count Peak?

Collecting data on big problems helps us approach some big decisions, but the seemingly small stuff is important too. This time of year a lot of people experience great discomfort from seasonal allergies. Having a way to know when allergy seasons peak could help many people prepare for pending sniffles and runny noses. When does the ragweed pollen count peak? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.

Here we are in September, when love is in the air! Oh wait, that’s February, but there’s still definitely something in the air here. In the late summer the ragweed plant does it’s annual thing, meaning it flowers and releases lots of pollen. These plants are native to North America and are in no short supply here in Virginia.

First of all these plants have a pretty remarkable pollen output. Each one of these plants is capable of producing up to 1 billion grams of pollen. Since these plants are so abundant this also means that the pollen counts can be very high if conditions allow. No wonder that seasonal allergies can impact so many individuals. Not only is there a high quantity of plants, but each individual plant can yield a very high quantity of pollen.

These plants are most certainly known for making a lot of pollen, but that stuff can really get around too! Scientists have measured ragweed pollen as far as 400 miles out to sea. It’s also been recorded up to 2 miles up in the atmosphere! With such a large area of distribution, one could wonder exactly how much pollen does our region have every season?

Thanks to dedicated work of some pollen documenting individuals we can start to put together answers to our questions. Data collected from right here in Richmond, VA from 1988 to now gives scientists a better understanding of annual ragweed pollen distribution. These measurements show us that the peak of ragweed pollen season takes place during the middle two weeks of September, as in right now!

This pollen also impacts a pretty big chunk of the population! As much as one out of every 5 people will be impacted by this so having the data to see the pollen trends is a good way to prepare and stay ahead of the sneezes and teary eyes. This mass release of ragweed pollen only happens this time of year, so if you can make it through these few weeks of allergies you won’t have to worry about this for about another 50 weeks! Again, not everyone is impacted by this, but the ones who are definately find it totally a-pollen.