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Fordham Pollen Index Now Covers Manhattan


For many allergy sufferers, checking the weather report for the pollen count is often a daily ritual. That ritual just got easier for Manhattanites, who can now consult Fordham University’s Pollen Index.

The new Manhattan Index joins its Calder Center counterpart, which began life in 1998. Both stations are certified by the National Allergy Bureau of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Image of pollen grains from a variety of common plants, including sunflower and morning glory Photo courtesy of the Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility

The two indices take daily measurements of pollen in the air from dozens of species of trees, weeds and grass from their respective aero-allergen monitoring stations: the rooftops of the Calder Center and the School of Law.

The results are posted on weekdays

“It’s important information to know if you have allergies,” said Guy Robinson, Ph.D., the Department of Natural Sciences lecturer who compiles the data. After working as a pollen analyst at the original Calder Center station since 1999, Robinson assumed its day-to-day management in 2007 and launched the website that same year.

Eventually, he thought that allergy-suffering Manhattanites could use an index of their own.

“Until now, there has not been an aero-allergen sampler in Manhattan,” he said. “By displaying both pollen counts side-by-side like this, we give people more information than the allergy numbers given with the weather reports.”

The indices also serve valuable scientific purposes, he said, such as increasing the understanding of long-term climate trends that affect pollen levels.

This summer, Robinson is being assisted by two Fordham undergraduates, Lillian Chiu and Chase Millea. Each is conducting an individual research project, drawing on the pollen data being collected.

Three high school students—Alexander Yorke, Lisa Chiffolo and Pamela Polanco—are each working on related pollen research projects. They are also surveying and mapping out the pollen-producing trees and shrubs of the Lincoln Center neighborhood.

Student researchers will be presenting findings at a symposium held at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, N.Y. during August.


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