Since the month of May consisted of driving winds and little rain, the pollen has reached epic proportions and seems to have permeated everything, everywhere. When the dust from wheat harvest is added to the equation, the allergens are beyond escape so measures should be taken concerning outdoor activities.
I recently read several scientific articles on the effects of Global Warming. Since the jury is 'in' and the experts agree it is an indisputable fact, the information of interest to gardeners addressed the topic of pollen. According to the professors who study such matters, the pollen will increase to the status of 'super' in the coming years.
The increased emissions of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by fuel propelled autos, airplanes, and large machinery are apparently the primary cause according to the experts. Since plants and grasses utilize carbon dioxide in the production of their food, the theory is that plants and grasses are now receiving the equivalent of daily doses of fertilizer. Gardeners who supply fertilizer in regular intervals know their plant life is rejuvenated by such applications so the theory is not off base.
Government research on Ragweed, the major culprit of allergens in the fall, indicate it produces more pollen and larger pollen as the growing season lengthens and the carbon dioxide levels rise. According to the US Agriculture Research Service, Ragweed already produces 131% more pollen now as opposed to a hundred years ago. Their projection is that by 2050 the percentage number will rise to an alarming 320%. Research also indicates trees and grasses, the prime sources of allergy misery in the spring and summer, also are in the process of becoming super pollinators.
As the allergy suffers know, this research provides no new information with exception of the possible cause of increased misery. Apparently the more beautiful the time of year, the more torment one may expect. However, there are a few rules set forth by the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology to relieve some symptoms and they suggest:
*A thorough spring cleaning of the house, top to bottom to remove dust.
*Postponing morning coffee in the garden until after ten when overnight pollen has settled.
*Stay inside on hot, dry, windy days if at all possible… wind storms are actually the equivalent of rain storms.
*Do not hang laundry, especially sheets, on the line as allergens collect on them. Allergens will also be on the over shirt idly tossed on the patio chair yesterday, so don’t put it back on.
*After working outside, shower and wash your hair before bed.
*Be aware of high mold spore counts after a heavy rain or in the evening. Dizziness and/or blurry vision are clues the spore count is high.
Living in a bubble is not necessary since scientists assure our species will adapt to the ‘new’ environment and survive. And for those who garden, avoidance of allergens is not an option. Perhaps we need a universal motto… possibly 'Sneeze On'?
Note: I wrote this article several years ago, however it bears repetition as a timely reminder since the number of allergens this season seem unprecedented.