Tuesday's rain cleared out some of the pollen that had people sniffling and sneezing. But the pollen will return, and forecasting that could soon get much more accurate here in Tampa Bay, thanks to some new technology.
Allergists at USF Health are testing a new system to better determine what's in the air.
Current methods have been used the past 50 years, and they require highly-trained technicians to manually identify and count pollen spores under a microscope. Some pollen reports base totals from past years and wind patterns, estimating how much of the grainy green stuff is in the air.
"It takes a lot of time, it's tedious and takes a lot of training, and there just aren't that many people around who do that any longer," says USF Health Allergist Dr. Mark Glaum.
USF Health is now comparing a new pollen analysis system against their microscope technique. A computer analyzes pollen based on DNA and provides readings in real time.
"I think it's very important to get an idea of what pollen levels are doing. There's also a lot of variation regionally. Pollen can travel hundreds of miles. It's what happening regionally," Glaum said.
The new device sits right next to the old one, high atop the James Haley VA hospital, across from the USF campus.
"I think it will give the patients and public who suffer from allergies much better data to see what the actual pollen counts are day by day," Glaum said.
USH Health hopes to finish testing the new system within the next couple months.
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