Weather

Pesky pollen returns: Yellow dust blankets the Triangle

Posted April 3, 2018 1:34 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:12 a.m. EDT

— The weather is turning warmer, which is good news for those who enjoy being out and about around the Triangle this time of year.

But the return of spring weather to central North Carolina also brings a resurgence of pollen, which is showing up as a yellow dust that is blanketing cars, sidewalks, pets and anything else that is outside this time of year. Pollen is also the culprit for allergy sufferers, many of whom are complaining about uncontrollable sneezes, runny eyes and difficulty breathing.

James Fox, who lives in Apex, captured video on his home's surveillance camera that showed a dusting of pollen on his property.

"Welcome to NC, where you can make pollenmen, pollenangels, have pollenball fights," he wrote in his Facebook post.

WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said we are in week one of a three-week peak pollen period. She said what you see with your eyes -- the yellow dust -- is not actually what makes allergy patients feel the worst.

"You will see dusts of clouds of yellow," she said. "But it's the stuff you don't see that actually triggers the sneezing and other things."

Pollen comes from all kinds of plants but the yellow pollen dust that is most common in the Triangle comes from pine trees. For allergy patients, it can impact their quality of life.

"A couple of days ago, it showed up all over the car, backyard and lawn furniture," said Rob Wood, who lives in Raleigh. "It's just been a pain. Hopefully, it'll be here for a couple of weeks and then it goes away."

Pollen

Dr. Sonia Bains, who works at Allergy Partners of Raleigh, said the pollen can trigger sneezes, watery eyes, runny noses, nasal congestion and itchy ears.

Bains said pollen can trigger flare-ups for patients who suffer from asthma or eczema.

Caroline Aleman, who lives in Raleigh, is one of those who is adversely affected by pollen.

"It disrupts our whole life (and) we sneeze a lot," she said. "And we can't find any drug that really works, so in Raleigh we just feel like there's no way to escape it."

The North Carolina Division of Air Quality monitors pollen in the air via a pollen sampler.

According to the agency's most recent pollen report, which tracked pollen samples from Sunday through Monday of this week, the Triangle has as a high tree pollen count, while the pollen samples from grass and weeds were fairly low.

This year's allergy season could be one of the worst on record.

"Just as we enter April, almost one-third of the U.S. is in moderate to high pollen levels already,” Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, the founder and medical director at the Allergy & Asthma Care of New York, told Healthline.com.

Online Extra

Five things you can do to minimize your exposure to pollen, according to WebMD

1. Close the windows. Keeping windows and doors closed in your home will reduce the amount of pollen circulating in your residence.

2. Wash your hair before bed. This will ensure that you don't end up with pollen in your bed.

3. Trap trouble: Clean home carpets once a week with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, which can trap pollen and other allergens.

4. On peak pollen days, stay indoors while the sun is up and when pollen counts are higher. Venture outside during the evening and take a shower when you return home.

5. Bathe your pet pooch and cat frequetly. Dogs and cats can spread pollen and other allergens in their fur.