Pesky pine pollen permeates the Triangle. But it's likely not causing your sneeze.

Pesky pine pollen permeates the Triangle. But it's likely not causing your sneeze.
Credit: Pixabay

RALEIGH, N.C. (Josh Shaffer | The News and Observer) - In the springtime, pollen has piled deeply enough to kick up yellow dust clouds, draw smiley faces on windshields and make yellow angels on the ground.

Judging from social media posts, residents have had their watery-eyed fill of the annual dusting. An example:

"I'm considering amputating my own eye balls," wrote @IMLENDC on Twitter.

And this cry-for-help thread on Reddit: "I'm sick of these trees having sex in my nose."

The N.C. Division of Air Quality monitors this nuisance from its station on Reedy Creek Road in Raleigh, where it gives Tuesday's tree pollen count at 1,695 grains per cubic meter, which qualifies as high.

Frigid temperatures kept pollen at bay for much of March, he said, hence a late start.

"Then things kind of exploded," he said. "You've probably seen the yellow and green haze."

And while many complain of itchy nostrils and croaking throats, the bulk of the pollen floating through the air this week comes from pine trees, which Miller explained is not usually an allergen.

"Pine is always going to be worst as a visible nuisance dust," he said, "but we can't blame it for our stuffy noses."

Pine's pollen is far larger than its hardwood neighbors, making it more visible. Oaks are just starting to release their springtime offering, he said, and they tend to be the more sneeze-inducing. Maples, birches, mulberries and elms are also due, then summertime grasses and ragweed — a whole new irritant.

Total pollen avoidance is next to impossible, but relief can be found by:

  • wearing a painter's mask during yard work.
  • changing clothes and showering.
  • traveling somewhere else when the pollen peaks in your area.
  • seeing an allergist.

Or on a more futile note, consider venting on the Reddit post:

"The trees have carefully considered your objection," wrote one visitor, "and politely wish to inform you they don't care at all."