Study: Controlled burns could help cedar allergies

Cedar pollen blowing off of trees in Central Texas, Jan. 2014 (credit: Stan Orth)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Cedar pollen levels are at a near record level, and that has many Central Texans sneezing and suffering from dry, red eyes. Aside from over-the-counter drugs, there may be a different kind of relief: controlled burns.

A group of scientists are checking it out at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. They are collecting pollen samples and comparing land that has been cleared in controlled burns and land that hasn’t.

“We’re looking to see by clearing the cedar trees if we’re having any effect on the pollen, what kind of atmospheric and meteorological conditions will change it,” said researcher Dr. Mark Simmons. “Because if we can see a difference with pollen concentrations when you do clear — versus when you don’t clear — the cedar, that will be something worth knowing.”

The researchers are also studying to see how pollen enters through windows at the University of Texas and how air flow could help. The scientists may have results within several months.

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