Locals are ready as "pollenpocalypse" blows around

The wet winter fed trees for a mean pollen count this spring, and it will appear as a yellow to green haze, jokingly called the pollenpocalypse, by early April. The pollenpocalypse is a release of pollen from pine trees, but its pollen is too large to trigger allergies.

Pollen, the kind the naked eye cannot see, is what triggers allergies, and the North Carolina Division of Air Quality (DAQ) reported a moderate 6.1 count of grass pollen, a low weed pollen count and a high tree pollen count at 96.5. The current shedding trees are cedars, alder, elm, poplar, pine, and willow.

In North Carolina, allergy season ranges from late February through mid-November, according to DAQ. Check the daily pollen count.

Locals are ready as "pollenpocalypse" blows in town

Is it allergies or the novel coronavirus? One way to know if symptoms are from allergies, according to allergists at Novant Health, is to check two things. If symptoms include itchy-watery eyes without fever, it is from allergies.

There are several types of flu, and the novel coronavirus is also blowing around. So, if allergic symptoms appear suddenly and hits hard with a fever, consult a health provider.

“As soon as pollen comes out, I start sneezing and eyes water, and I have to tell people I have allergies because they think you have the corona,” Lillian Jolly, at Crossroads Coffee Company in Vass, said.

Locals are ready as "pollenpocalypse" blows in

Lillian Jolly talks about her allergies on March 5 at Crossroads Coffee in Vass.

The pollenpocalypse arrives with warmer weather when people want to raise their windows and enjoy their screened-in porches and patios. The yellow pollen sticks to everything and must be washed off.

“I washed my truck Sunday,” John Perhealth, owner of Edwards Hardware in Vass, said. “Monday, I was going to wax it, but it already had pollen on it. Can’t sleep with the windows open, and if it gets inside the truck, you never get it all out. Lots of Blackjack trees, they hold ticks and pollen.”

Blackjack oaks are a variety of oak with contorted branches which locals call the “scrub oak” and like other hardwoods, it sheds from late March through mid-April.

March through April, oak, ash and birch trees shed pollen.

Maples shed through May, and sycamores shed through June.

Grasses shed March through November and peak in April and June, much like weeds.

A study by the National Institute of Health showed that filtration masks helped reduce allergy symptoms, except to the eyes because they are not protected.

Eye goggles are available online and in shops where swimwear is offered.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, there is a solution to avoiding pollen. Buy a plane ticket to Denver, Colorado, the top state for least pollen, or fill the pollen gear checklist – water hose, mask, and eye goggles.

Feature photo: John Perhealth talks about pollen issues on March 5 at his store, Edwards Hardware, in Vass.

~Article, photos, and graphic by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers.

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