If you’ve been told you have a pollen allergy, then you’ve had an allergic reaction to the fine powder that comes from the stamen of flowering plants and trees. Which means here in Vancouver, springtime can leave you running for cover.
You don’t have to remove all of your trees and dig up all of your flowering plants in order to survive however. There are many things you can do to create a cleaner, healthier environment for you to live in while still enjoying all the beauty that springtime has to offer.
An allergic reaction to pollen is also sometimes referred to as hay fever, which is caused when pollen is dispersed through the air. Because pollen is fine, it can be carried for great distances with simple air movements. It also makes it easy to inhale as it comes in contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth.
With a pollen allergy, you may be affected by pollen from different species of plants. Spring blooming plants can include oak, birch, hazelnut, willow, alder and cedar, and even some grasses. If you suffer in the late summer and fall, you’re most likely affected by ragweed.
When forecasts mention pollen counts, they provide you with information on the type of pollens that are currently in your environment. Pollen levels are reported on a scale of 12, low is 0-2.4, medium is 2.5 to 4.8, medium is 4.9 to 7.2, high medium is 7.3 to 9.6 and high is 9.7 to 12. These levels take into account how much pollen you’ll be exposed to during a given period of time.
Before you take a shovel or an ax and began to remove trees and plants yourself, we have some tips that can help you enjoy one of the most beautiful times here in the Pacific Northwest while keeping your allergies at bay.
- Keep your car in the garage
Leaving your car in the driveway or in the parking lot at work all day gives pollen a chance to hide in the nooks and crannies. Every time you open and shut the door, or use the window to let in a little fresh air, pollen is allowed to spread throughout your car. If you can keep your car in enclosed areas – in your garage at home, in a parking garage at work – you’ll have less likelihood of your car being covered in the fine yellow mist. Spray your car with water and give it a good washing more frequently during high periods to rinse away pollen. Also, keep sanitary wipes in your car to wipe down the steering wheel and other devices when you get into your car on heavy pollen days. If it’s not on your hands, you can’t spread it to your face. And you’ll have less likelihood of breaking out in a full-on allergy attack.
- Leave your outside clothes in the mudroom
Instead of wearing jackets and shoes into your home, take them off as soon as you enter and leave them in mudrooms or entryways. As you walk through pollen, it sticks to your shoes. And the longer you are outdoors, the greater the chance of pollen settling into your coats and clothing. By taking outdoor gear off where you enter, there’s less possibility of bringing it into your living areas, and spreading pollen in places where you sit and relax.
- Neutralize the problem
If you have a house, yard work is a natural part of home maintenance. You’ll have leaves to rake up from the trees. You’ll be weeding the garden all through the year. It comes with the territory. Even normal mowing and trimming can stir up pollen and deposit it onto your hands and clothes.
It’s important to remove all pollen as soon as you enter your home. Don’t sit down. Instead, go to the laundry room and remove your clothes. Do a load of laundry immediately to remove all trace of pollen. Then take a shower to remove it from exposed areas of your body, including your hair and face. This can help leave pollen outside where it belongs.
- Your pets are part of the plan too
Every time your dogs and outdoor cats step outside, they have the potential to bring pollen back in with them. Before they enter during peak times, brush them thoroughly and wipe their paws before they track it through your home. Vacuum on a more frequent basis to pick up trace amounts.
- Clean on a more frequent basis
There is something to be said for springtime cleaning. To ensure pollen doesn’t settle into your home, dust and vacuum on a more frequent basis. Instead of allowing dusters and vacuums to sit with dirt and dust around them, use bagless systems and empty canisters after each use. Also, consider using dust rags you can wash immediately to reduce the amount of dust and pollen sitting in your home.
- Keep windows and doors closed
While it may be difficult to keep everything closed up after a long cold winter, resist the urge to open up your home until pollen settles down. Fresh air and movement allows pollen to enter and settle in all kinds of places throughout your home. If it gets too stifling, using the air conditioner is a wiser choice at this time. However, be sure to change your HVAC filters, as the appropriate HEPA filter can help trap more pollen and keep it away from your living quarters.
- Keep outside living spaces clean
It’s not just your inside spaces that can have an impact; if you use outdoor rooms regularly, be sure to keep them clean too. Dust all outdoor furniture on a regular basis. Cover with old sheets or covers when not in use. Wash cushions on a regular basis if you have slipcovers, or have them professionally cleaned after high season. You should also have your outdoor rooms power washed to get pollen out of the screens, posts and flooring after pollen has settled down.
Living with pollen does have a nice trade-off – it’s one of the most beautiful times of the year. Keeping your trees trimmed and your plants well cared for ensures that they are in peak health all year through. Removing dead trees from your property will allow you to enjoy peak performance from your garden, while keeping the surrounding areas clean and healthy all year long.
Have questions about the health of your trees? Want to know the best trees for your landscaping? Give us a call today.