Health officials have expressed concern about a "pollen tsunami" currently affecting residents living in the American northeast.
Several plants in the region, such as ash, poplar, alder, birch and oak trees, are simultaneously releasing pollen grains in the air and causing allergy attacks in people.
According to Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of New York's Allergy & Asthma Care, possible reasons for this phenomenon include the severe winter last year, the delayed start of spring and even the setting effects of climate change.
"It's a triple whammy," Bassett stated. "The early and mid-spring tree pollen and the grasses are hitting all at once to create misery and suffering."
Bassett explained that the sudden onrush of pollen may have been triggered when rain and winter snow filled the root systems of the trees. The resulting deluge of pollen grains is now causing an allergic response in people and leaving a significant amount of residue in window sills and porches.
The effect of the pollen in the air is also experienced by residents in large cities, Bassett said.
Guy Robinson of New York's Fordham University said that the pollen situation in the city is "pretty bad." He is in charge of the university's pollen testing stations.
Robinson, however, noted that the pollen count for the first week of May is not "unusually high."
While the buildup of pollen residue is starting to become a problem for homeowners, it is the stuff that people cannot see that poses a more serious concern.
Bassett's colleague in Northeast Georgia, Dr. John Yarbrough of the Allergy & Asthma Clinic, said that the smaller pollen released by trees, such as hickory and oak, is what causes the most serious allergies in people.
Yarbrough added that allergic reactions in people may vary, with some individuals being more susceptible to pollen than others.
To help curb the effects of the pollen tsunami, experts urge the public to always check the pollen count in the area and to stay indoors if the numbers are high. People should also wear sunglasses and hats if going outdoors is inevitable.
Homeowners are advised not to hang clothes outside to dry. Pollen-laden clothes should not be taken inside the bedroom. Floors should regularly be cleaned in order to keep it free from pollen.
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