What Does the Pollen Count Really Mean?

Updated on Saturday, March 18, 2017

Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Blog
Patients with allergies have symptoms triggered by a variety of factors. One of the major culprits here in metro Atlanta is pollen. Allergists need to know what pollens are in the air and how they may impact their patients in order to effectively treat them.

This is the primary reason Atlanta Allergy & Asthma has been dedicated to collecting daily pollen counts for more than 25 years. We are the official pollen counting station in metro Atlanta and the only local station certified by the National Allergy Bureau.

Pollen Basics
Pollen is released from plants to reproduce. Larger pollens are transferred by insects, smaller microscopic pollens are windblown. Insect pollenated plants include colorful flowers, whereas windblown pollen includes the hardwood trees, grasses and certain weeds.

Springtime allergy symptoms here in Atlanta are caused by the hardwoods (ex. Oak, Elm, Cedar) which have windblown pollen.

Pollen Collection
A special device is used to collect the pollen. The machine is placed high above the ground on a rooftop and collects the pollen over a 24-hour period.

Our specially trained, certified technicians remove the pollen collection slide from the Roto-rod collector early each morning. This slide is then processed with a special stain and examined under a microscope where the pollen grains are counted. The pollens can be identified by their size and shape. Using a standardized calculation, the pollen count for that day is determined.

Given the necessary 24-hour collection period, this number actually represents the number of pollen grains in a cubic meter of air over the previous 24-hours.

Pollen counts are dependent on a number of factors including temperatures, wind, and rain. We do not forecast pollen counts. “Predictive models” that utilize historical data and weather forecasts have proven unreliable because, as they say, “nothing changes like the weather.”

If you have allergy symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with one of Atlanta Allergy’s 18 board-certified allergy specialists to identify your specific allergic triggers. Once you have this information, you can sign up for our daily pollen count email alerts and properly adjust outdoor activities during peak times of your allergic triggers.