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Pollen Collection & Counting

How our team of scientists collects and analyzes pollen for Albuquerque.

Creating a Pollen Library

The Division remains active in identifying local pollens not typically found in pollen identification documents. Staff also collect, identify and take digital images to develop a catalog of local pollens.

View images of local pollen

For almost two decades the City of Albuquerque has collected and counted pollen. While the methods have changed over the past few years the effort to accurately collect and count the pollen has not.

The City operates two pollen samplers, one in the northeast heights and one on the Westside.

  • The NE Heights site is at Del Norte station.
  • The Westside sampler is near Montaño and Coors.


Burkard Spore Trap

How It Works

Step 1: Trap Pollen in the Air

At our collection stations the City uses two Burkard volumetric spore traps with two 24 hour sample heads. By using the Burkard sampler common laboratory slides can be used to collect the pollen.

  1. Empty slides are labeled and then prepared using a very thin film of a high quality vacuum grease.
  2. Slides are placed in the Burkard samplers and allowed to run for approximately 24 hours.

24 hour sample head

Step 2: Remove & Prepare Samples for Analysis

  1. The following morning staff remove the sample slides and install the next day's sample slides.
  2. The slides are then transported to the Air Quality Division's westside office.
  3. At the office the pollen counter warms the glycerine jelly staining agent, slides and cover slips. Stain is applied followed by a cover slip and the slides are allowed to cool. The red staining agent is absorbed by the pollen on the sample slide making the pollen easier to identify.

Step 3: Count Pollen Using a Microscope

  1. The slide is mounted on the reading microscope. At a 40x objective, all pollen within an entire length (traverse) of the sample area (approximately 48 mm long by 0.54 mm) is counted. If values are low then more traverses are counted.
  2. The pollen are then statistically calculated for the entire exposed sample area. The statistical calculation becomes the official pollen count.

Step 4: Publish Pollen Count

The pollen count is reported by phone, email alert system and on the City's website.

You can sign up for the pollen email alerts at at today's pollen count.

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