BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you have red, itchy eyes or stuffed-up sinuses, you are not alone. Allergy experts across the country are warning of a “pollen tsunami.”
Jessica Kartalija has more.
An unusually high amount of pollen in the air is causing misery for the estimated 40 million people with nasal allergies. One of the biggest pollen hot zones spans the northeast.
Blooming flowers and budding branches mean spring is in the air—and so is the pollen. It’s everywhere, collecting in thick clumps on the ground and coating cars.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, Medical Director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, says there’s so much pollen, even people who have never had allergies are suffering.
“This particular season, we’ve been bombarded by phone calls from people experiencing allergy symptoms for the very first time and not only allergies, but pollen-triggered asthma. Wheezing. People in their 50s, 60s and beyond never had it before,” he said.
Normally, trees release their pollen in early spring but the long, brutal winter delayed that until now, when other plants and grasses are just starting to release theirs. For allergy sufferers, it’s a perfect pollen storm.
“Right now, we have birch, oak, maple pollen in the northeast, very prevalent. If you’re sensitive to those tree pollens, you’re going to feel miserable,” he said.
A Rutgers researcher says climate change is causing allergy seasons to start earlier and last longer—and that by 2040, pollen counts will be more than twice the levels they were in 2000.
“No matter where you are, whether in a city, town or suburb, pollens are here to stay. They’re rising,” Bassett said. “You need to be ready for this pollen storm and have a game plan in place.”
Right now, the pollen count for trees is at the highest level, with grass, weeds and mold at lower levels.
It’s not just the northeast. Pollen counts in most of the country are at medium to high levels.