Stand back; there’s a pollen hurricane coming through
The spring of 2015 is a great time to be a pollen-counting app developer, but a terrible time to have allergies in the Northeast. The Spring Allergy Doomsday Clock is about to hit midnight; we’re talking DEFCON 1, Threat Level Red here. You’ll wish you were living in the Selfish Giant’s garden where it was winter all the time and spring never came. “Normally the tree pollen starts at the end of winter or the beginning of spring and then the grass pollen comes in May,” CBS News medical correspondent Jon LaPook said. “Now, it's been delayed and you're getting the tree pollen right now… it's just being dumped on you.”
And since these things always come in threes, oak and birch tree pollen is coming out at the same time as poplar, alder, and ash pollen, and all of this tree pollen may soon be joined by grass pollen to create a perfect storm of allergens. “It's a triple whammy,” medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York Dr. Clifford Bassett said. “The early and mid-spring tree pollen and the grasses are hitting all at once to create misery and suffering.” It’s just like the Day of the Triffids all over again.
Will humanity sneeze itself into oblivion, leading to a Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors scenario in which the Universe is conquered by organic plant-like monsters? Probably not; it’s almost certain that the trees mean humans no harm. Perhaps they’re just confusing hobbits with Orcs, so to speak, as Ents are wont to do. Even though you may not have to worry about the pollen somehow replacing you and your friends with perfect replicas – in fact, it may end up actually saving us from an alien invasion –, you may still want to take a few measures to avoid finding yourself awash in a sea of pollen, such as the following:
· Using air conditioning.
· Exercising indoors.
· Wearing a hat and sunglasses outside.
· Not hanging clothes out to dry in the suburbs.
· Washing your face – or fully showering – after going outside.
· Taking off pollen-covered clothes and keeping them outside of the bedroom.
· Keeping floors clean.
· Consider allergy relief medications.
Finally, remember that, like Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man, pollen can be not just mean but also invisible. “Think about it in your mind's eye, your head is like a mop, and there's this invisible pollen that's there,” LaPook said. “If you could see it, you'd get freaked out.” As for visible pollen, hose it down from the porch or mop it out, but don’t sweep it. “Your instinct may be to sweep it away,” the CBS News correspondent said. “You may want to do that with a wet mop if there's nobody around, but what's better is to find somebody who's not allergic and have them clean it up. The last thing you want to do is have it blowing.”