Massachusetts braces for a wave of pollen


If you’re reaching for a tissue today because of allergies, you’re not alone. But it might get a whole lot worse.


Tuesday’s highs could hit 80, which would break a record for the day. Unfortunately, with the heat comes pollen.

Metro Minute talked with Dr. Sarita Patil, an allergist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Maria Castells, an allergist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Tom Kines, senior meteorologist at, to discuss pollen season and how people can prepare.

How bad is pollen season going to be?

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Patil: “The onset [of symptoms] is going to be quite abrupt. This could be a wave of pollen about to hit us.”

Castells: “There are two main factors that contribute to when pollen season starts — when days get longer and when it gets warmer — and under the right circumstances, they can release large amounts of pollen at a single time.”

Kines: “You can’t tell for sure, but these next few days are going to have a high pollen count. Today is bad and tomorrow is going to be bad. If you have allergies, you’re going to be suffering.

When is pollen season, and why does it look like it will be so severe this year?


Patil: “The start can vary quite a bit depending on the fluctuations of temperature right around the end of winter. There are a couple types of pollen and the season starts when the trees pollinate at the start of spring. We’ve had longer days, but the weather has been cold. Now that it’s warm, there’s no reason for plants to wait.”

Castells: “It’s hard to give an exact date. This year is late, but with a milder winter, it could start earlier. There will be pollen in the air until the first frost in fall as trees pollinate in the spring, then the grasses in the summer, followed by the weeds in the fall.”

Kines: “It’s this time of year. [The flowers and trees] are opening up at the same time. That’s what’s leading to bad news for people with allergies.”

What can people with allergies do?

Patil: “The number one thing is avoidance. Close your windows. Avoid going out during the peak pollen hours of the morning. … If you’ve been outside, rinse off so you’re not being exposed as you sleep.”

Castells: “Take your medication. Start with an antihistamine and move on to a nasal spray. If you have asthma, check with your allergist and come up with plans in case your symptoms get worse.”

Kines: Hope for rain and eastern winds. Rain Wednesday could help wash away some pollen and cool, eastern winds off the sea can bring in clean, pollen-free air.”

Andrew Grant can be reached at

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