Pollen, Pollen, Go Away...
Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, April 09, 2013
It Doesn't Take Long for Pine Pollen to Coat EverythingWell, it's time for Atlanta's annual rite of passage - spring pollen, and particularly pine pollen.  While there are certainly more tree pollens than just pine floating around in the air, pine pollen is what gives this city it's lovely yellow hue this time of year.  For those affected by allergies or have allergy-induced asthma, the next several weeks can be miserable without taking some steps to control exposure.

We generally recommend you first start at home.  What's floating around outside cannot be helped, but what's floating around inside your house can.  This time of year it's important to remember that a few simple steps can help keep many of those allergens outside, where they belong.
  • Take your shoes off.  It seems pretty self-explanatory, but you can track a lot of pollen into the house.  This is also true for pets.  While your cat or dog probably doesn't wear shoes, using a pet wipe or simply damp rag to quickly wipe them down when they come in can help keep them from tracking throughout the house.
  • Change the filter.  This can apply to a couple things.  Your HVAC filter is likely due for a change.  After spending much of the winter indoors, these filters can work overtime trying to keep your indoor air clean.  Start with a fresh filter every two to three months.  If you are using a HEPA air purifier, keep tabs on when your filter change is due.  Often they'll have timer based indicators, but keep this running properly can help reduce the pollen that you're bringing in the house.
  • Don't skimp on the spring cleaning!  Regular vacuuming, washing, and dusting are more important during high pollen times than at any other point in the year.  By letting allergens build you can easily quickly increase your "allergen load" past the tipping point and be overwhelmed with symptoms.
  • Keep the windows closed.  In places with high levels of pine pollen opening the windows can be about the equivalent of coating everything in your home with baby powder, except it will be yellow and likely cause a lot more sneezing.  If you do want to keep the windows open without the mess and allergens, try using a window filter.  They're not a efficient as a HEPA filter, but they do a good job in removing larger particles and much of the pollen in the air.  Besides, if they were HEPA rated, no air at all would pass through.
Who Wants to Eat On My Patio?While these tips can help to keep pollen out of your home, we don't want people to be shut-ins.  So when you're out and about, plan certain tasks around specific times of the day.  Late morning and midday are often your worst times for peak pollen.  There are also a variety of resources that will give you a daily pollen count.  So if something could be pushed off from a particularly high pollen day, you can do a bit of short term planning.  If you are going to be out and about, whether for fun, work or exercise, OTC medication can help prevent and treat many of the symptoms, and a high quality allergy mask can block most of the allergens in the air.  Using a nasal irrigation device can help rinse away reaction causing pollen and other allergens that collect in the nose and sinuses.

None of these things cost much money.  More than anything, it is simply spending a little extra time or stepping up the frequency of things that you are already going.  Spring is here, so buckle up!  We have about three weeks of this lovely yellow powder ahead of us!

Author: Kevin G.

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