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Spring Has Sprung Early... And So Have Seasonal Allergies

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The sneezing has started in Las Vegas.

The official first day of spring is Sunday, but seasonal allergy sufferers might already be sniffling and sneezing.

Thanks to record–high temperatures in the first few months of the year, Nevada is seeing spring blooms – and pollen – early. 

Tanviben Patel is the supervisor of Clark County School District and UNLV’s Pollen Program. She said efforts to bring green to the desert years ago is why you're sniffling now. 

"We started to bring invasive trees here to make the desert kind of like a paradise with the greenery," Patel said.

The trees that were brought from the East Cost and the Midwest were drought tolerant and survived our desert heat, but they were also some of the most highly allergenic. 

One of the biggest culprits is the mulberry trees, which are no longer allowed to be planted in Southern Nevada because of the pollen they produce.

"We are by far one of the top allergic cities especially when it comes to our mulberry concentration," Patel said.

The dry air of the desert does contribute to the allergy problem, according to Patel, because "it keeps the pollen in the air longer."

She recommends people with allergies change their clothes when they come home from being outside. She also said people need to shower and wash their hair before going to bed to prevent the pollen stuck in their hair from transferring to bedding, and keep windows at home closed.  

Patel said there is an increase in allergy sufferers every year because  "blooms start earlier and stay longer."

She said the whole valley should be aware of not only the trees that are known pollen purveyors like olive and mulberry (which are both now restricted), but also other trees that can cause problems like ash, sycamore and pine.  Over-planting of these trees could create another set of allergy problems.

Tanviben Patel, supervisor, CCSD/UNLV Pollen Program

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Nikole Robinson Carroll is KNPR's Morning Edition host. You can hear her every morning from 5am until 10am on News 889. She also produces segments for KNPR's State of Nevada.