WREX and Winnebago Co. Health Dept. team up for allergy season - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

WREX and Winnebago Co. Health Dept. team up for allergy season

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Have you been sniffling and sneezing? Tis the season for allergies and the weather has a lot to do with how you may feel. This week, we were invited to the laboratory at the Winnebago County Health Department to see how the pollen is counted. On the roof is a machine, dubbed the "RotoRod" spins a sticky piece of plastic for one minute, every ten minutes, for 24 hours. Some of the pollen that floats through the air sticks to the plastic. Each morning, scientists in the lab must climb a ladder to the roof of the building and collect the sample.

Larry Swacina, Director of Environmental Health says "You don't realize there's small little world of this entire world of this small little particles of living things. it's just fascinating to look under the microscope and see all of that."

The sample is brought back to the lab and inserted into a microscope where certain types of pollen are identified. For instance, pine tree pollen has little wings which allows it to ride the wind, traveling longer distances. Ragweed pollen is spiky, which causes big problems for sufferers.

Once each pollen is identified, the sample is analyzed which allows the lab tech to determine how much grains of pollen is in a typical cubic foot of air.

Swacina says it's important to sample each day's pollen because of our aging population as he believes more people are developing allergy or asthma symptoms.

You can get each day's Allergy Report on 13News at Noon and 5pm each weekday.

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