Minnesota pollen data fuzzy for allergy sufferers

Sep. 19—ROCHESTER — Minnesota allergy sufferers are in the home stretch as the first frost is coming eventually. However, until then, it may take some guesswork to know what to expect.

Late August into September is peak ragweed pollen season. The Minnesota Department of Health no longer provides pollen count data.

That's in part because the Clinical Research Institute, the organization that previously provided the daily pollen counts at no charge to MDH, stopped providing daily pollen count data because of a lack of staffing and funding limitations.

CRI was the only organization certified by the National Allergy Bureau collecting data on pollen levels in Minnesota, according to Amy Barrett, communications officer at the Minnesota Department of Health.

The department does have historic pollen count information and an explanation of the

data collection online containing observations from 1993 to 2020.

The National Weather Service doesn't track pollen count either. However, Todd Shea, meteorologist in charge at the NWS in La Crosse, Wisconsin, said resources such as the American Academy of

Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

and national pollen forecasts at


are helpful sites recommended by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

If it seems like this season has been particularly bad for allergies, despite a lack of Minnesota-specific public data, there are other potential factors this year. Most of Minnesota is under drought conditions, which can make conditions for allergies worse.

According to Mayo Clinic, windy, dry days are the worst for spreading pollen. Mayo Clinic suggests allergy sufferers try to schedule outdoor activities for shortly after rainfall because the rain helps clear pollen from the air. However, with rainfall infrequent and rare through most of the state this season, those opportunities have been rare.

For people suffering especially bad allergies, Mayo Clinic recommends a saline nasal rinse, which can help directly clear allergens from nasal passages.

For people experiencing bad seasonal allergies this year, health care providers can conduct blood and skin tests to find out exactly what specific allergens trigger their symptoms. Testing can help determine ways to avoid specific allergy triggers and identify which treatments are likely to work best.