Local News

Intense pollen causing problems for people with or without allergies

PULLMAN, Wash. - An overlap in tree and grass pollination, combined with brisk winds, is causing problems for people, whether they're allergic or not.

Grasses in the Inland Northwest are pollinating hard on the heels of a tree pollination season delayed by a cool and damp spring, according to arborist Tim Kohlhauff of WSU’s extension program in Spokane. Add windiness to the mix and “it’s kind of like a dust storm, but with a yellow tint to it,” he said.

Information from Tuesday's pollen readings from the National Allergy Bureau's regional monitoring station in Coeur d'Alene show high concentrations from three tree species and all types of grasses.

Pollen levels have been surging into the high range intermittently since May 23, first from trees that pollinated roughly two weeks later than normal, and more recently from grasses that flourished in spring’s cool, wet weather.

“Overlap occurs a little bit each year but not to this extent. We’re definitely dealing with more particulate matter in the air,” Kohlhauff said.

The results are a yellow dust that coats car windshields and can contribute to a host of symptoms.

“For people who aren’t allergic, this means a gritty sensation in the eyes, nose and throat. For those who are allergic, they’ve got an intense concentration of tree and grass pollen giving them cold-like symptoms,” he said.

The wind, in particular has been stirring up trouble by circulating the confluence of pollen into the air.

The good news is that when tree pollinating ends in late June, things should start improving. Grass pollination is expected to peak now through mid-July.