04:00 AM

It's been a bad week in KC for allergies, again

About this time every year, people ask Jay Portnoy whether this is the worst allergy season ever.

And every year, Portnoy, director of the allergy division at Children's Mercy Hospital, answers: "It probably is."

The sneezes and itchy eyes we're contending with mark the start of a mighty tree pollen season, Portnoy said Monday. Right now, the juniper and elm are pollinating. Maples and ash will be next. And later, oaks and walnuts.

"So far, for juniper, it's pretty robust," Portnoy said. "If it's not the worst season on record, it's pretty close."

For the past 18 years, Portnoy and his Children's Mercy colleagues have been taking pollen readings from instruments on the hospital's roof. At first, pollen counts over 1,000 were unusual, but the numbers have been going up steadily over the years, a result of longer and more abundant growing seasons fueled by climate change's higher temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Read more via the Kansas City Star.