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Pollen count plagues allergy sufferers in Anchorage

By Lauren Maxwell 8:37 PM May 16, 2014

Pollen counts remain high in the Anchorage area, officials say.

Anne Schlapia, who works for Anchorage’s Department of Health and Human Services, took her latest count Friday morning. She said birch tree pollen continues to be predominate in the Anchorage area with alder pollen a close second. Pollen from pine and spruce trees is just starting to arrive.

Schlapia collects pollen samples twice a week from a monitoring station that sits on the roof of a church in the Airport Heights neighborhood. A slide captures pollen and molds that are in the air for a 24-hour period.

To find out exactly what is on the slide requires some detective work. Schlapia does that work in a lab in the basement of the health department. A high-powered microscope magnifies the pollen 400 times for easy identification.

She counts the pollen that she sees to determine how much is in the air.

The information on the municipal air quality hotline is updated regularly. Call 343-4899 or go to anchorageair.info.

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