Residents See Yellow-Green Over High Pollen Levels

Posted March 30, 2007 7:40 p.m. EDT

— The amount of pollen in the air across the Triangle is the most seen in at least eight years, according to state officials, which has residents scrambling for relief.

The state Division of Air Quality has measured pollen levels as high as 2,925 grains per cubic meter in the past week, nearly double the 1,500 grains usually recorded at the peak of the season, division spokesman Tom Mathers said.

The levels are the highest since the state started keeping records in 1999, Mathers said. The previous high came in 2003, when readings topped out at 2,391 grains per cubic meter, he said.

A warm winter brought an early peak to this year's pollen season -- pollen is usually worst across the region in mid-April -- area residents are feeling it.

"The pollen is horrible," one woman said.

"It's bothered me a lot," another woman said.

Dr. Neena Sodhi, an allergist in Fayetteville, said patients have been lining up for shots, nasal sprays and pills to relieve their sneezing, scratchy throats and watery eyes.

"We're at the height of the tree pollen season now. Over the winter, most people tend to forget how bad it feels, and then once the pollen comes in, they come in and they're sick," Sodhi said.

Eight-year-old Adarius Braham knows pollen makes him feel bad, although he's not sure exactly what it is.

"It's this yellow-like disease from trees," Braham said as he waited to receive an allergy shot. "It makes me sneeze a lot and cough a lot."

Once the pollen from oak, pine and birch trees lets up, allergy sufferers need to deal with grass pollens in the summer and ragweed pollen in the fall.

The only people who seem happy to see the pollen flying are car wash owners and workers.

"Pollen is money, baby," a car wash attendant said.