Allergy season coming to B.C. after 6 week delay

Allergy sufferers in B.C. will need to brace themselves for tree pollens like oak, birch and pine to start peaking in the next week, according to a Canadian laboratory that tracks airborne allergens by the day.

The province's unusually cold winter and spring have delayed the start of allergy season by more than six weeks, but it is coming. It stands in stark contrast to 2016, when the mild winter led to the allergy season beginning a month early. 

"We don't expect an explosion but we do expect an intensity in the alder one in the upcoming weeks" said Daniel Coates, Director Marketing and Business Development with Aerobiology Research Laboratories.

"You folks are usually much earlier," he said. "It's actually starting where the rest of the country starts this year." 

The Ottawa-based lab operates 30 monitoring stations, including in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, that gather pollen and spore samples daily. The samples are monitored and analyzed for allergen levels across the country

Researchers link 25 years of historical data, along with pollen counts and weather conditions to forecast which allergens will be peaking where. Coates says their data is 82 per cent accurate.

Aerobiology Laboratories has developed an app called Allergy Sufferers that will be launched next week to help those that dread the arrival of spring. 

"For the folks in B.C., our apps will help them out because there's really not a lot of mediums in Canada that can show you the pollen across the country," said Coates.

While there may be an app for that, allergy sufferers still have the option of over-the-counter or prescription remedies to help ease those sneezy, wheezy, scratchy-eyed symptoms.

And if all else fails, Coates says the best medicine is staying inside to limit exposure.

"There's no cure. The best an allergist will tell you is to try and avoid it."