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Fall and Winter Allergies

Well, the outdoor allergy season is almost over and we will soon be finished doing collections and providing information to the public through our reports that we produce.

The pollen in the air is generally at low levels or even absent on many days now. But people may still be suffering for a while in some areas where the temperatures will be remaining high enough for the fungal spores to continue growing and releasing the spores in the air. The most abundant ones are the shelf fungus growing on decaying trees like Ganoderma and very common mushrooms on lawns like Coprinus. These are all part of a group of fungi called Basidiomycota and are considered to be important in causing allergic reactions. Another very common fungus that grows on dead grasses and other decaying weeds and other vegetative matter is Cladosporium. This fungal spore is very abundant throughout the summer months but especially in August and fall. From August and well into fall these fungal spores can be found in high numbers and may be the cause of allergic reactions for some people who suffer from seasonal allergies.


The fungal spores, in some areas, explain why some people are still suffering from allergies when we are reporting that the pollen levels are low. This type of information is important so that people can be equipped to better understand when different types of allergies occur. Weather is a key component on determining what the levels of the fungal spores will remain at in the fall months. In areas where the temperatures will be staying warm (Vancouver and Victoria, for example) these fungal spores may stay in high enough numbers to keep causing allergic reactions to sensitized individuals well into the fall season.


I often get asked about allergies in the winter months or when the snow is melting in the early spring when there is no pollen in the air and the fungal spores are still very low. There are several things that come to mind when considering allergic reactions at that time of the year. One is indoor air quality which includes dust mites, animal dander, formaldehyde, radon, mold and other great things that happen to the air in the home if steps are not taken to keep the air in a healthy state and to keep humidity under control.

The other fungus that occurs in the early spring and summer are different types of snow mold. There are different species of snow mold and they tend to do damage to the grass in the spring when the snow melts. These fungi could potentially create an allergic reaction to sensitized individuals upon contact with the fungus when it is observed on the melting snow.

So for winter enthusiasts – keep safe, enjoy winter and looking forward to providing Blogs on outdoor allergies and keeping people informed as to what the 2015 will likely be for allergy sufferers.

Written by Frances Coates from Aerobiology. The research laboratories collect data measuring outdoor allergen levels from 30 sites over Canada, and work with allergists all over North America. Visit their site for more in-depth information about outdoor allergens.

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