Tree leads to an unusual allergy spike in metro Atlanta

ATLANTA — A popular tree being planted by Atlanta residents is leading to an unusual allergy spike in the metro area.

Like a lot of allergy sufferers, Nicole Cotton reacts to tree pollen, but now her spring symptoms are lingering.

“I did notice I got a little more congestion this fall,” Cotton said.

Experts are zeroing in on a popular tree called the Chinese elm.

Dr. Stanley Fineman turned up a trend in pollen counts in Atlanta dating to 2009.


“We were seeing increases in tree pollen in the fall season, which is very unusual,” Fineman said.

Experts worked with Emory University to pinpoint the reason.

The Chinese elm is native to Asia and is being planted here more often because of its low-maintenance

shady branches, in enough numbers that it's now a significant autumn allergen. %



Fineman said allergy sufferers should make sure they're getting the right treatments at the right time.

“Patients who have symptoms in the fall need to be evaluated by an allergist who can differentiate whether it’s just ragweed or whether it’s Chinese elm,” Fineman said. “If you don't know what's triggering (it, you) might be getting the wrong treatment.”

Cotton is adjusting to a new season of sniffles.

“I always get excited for fall to come, things to die down, to help with what's blooming and things,” Cotton said.