"Pollen Bomb" Tree in Viral Video May Not Cause Allergies After All

But it's still exploding on the internet.

by Hannah Margaret Allen

As if allergy sufferers needed further proof of the heightened pollen threat this year, a video of a “pollen bomb” exploding off a tree in New Jersey has gone viral since it was posted on Monday.

Like a tree celebrating the Holi festival, a “pollen bomb” refers to the yellow cloud of pollen that, in this particular instance, poofed off an allergen-laden tree when Eric Henderson tapped it with a backhoe loader. The video, which was posted on Facebook by his wife Jennifer Henderson, resonates with those suffering from allergies, but this tree might not even cause the infamous allergy symptoms.

It isn’t clear what kind of tree this is, though for the Hendersons’ sakes, we hope that it’s a pine tree. According to an interview with the News Observer in early April, Nathan Miller, a North Carolina Division of Air Quality chemistry technician, pine pollen is relatively benign. “Pine is always going to be worst as a visible nuisance dust, but we can’t blame it for our stuffy noses,” he said. Pine would certainly create the yellow-green cloud in the video if jostled but probably wouldn’t cause the classic runny nose, itchy eyes situation because its pollen is bigger than that of other hardwoods, said Miller. So while you may feel a sneeze coming on, this wind-pollinated tree probably isn’t the culprit.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America lists the most likely causes of pollen-induced misery as alder, ash, aspen, beech, birch, box elder, cedar, cottonwood, elm, hickory, mountain elder, mulberry, oak, olive, pecan, poplar, and willow trees. Generally, trees with smaller pollen are more allergenic, notes WebMD. Seasonal allergies are a topic of conversation every year, but this year actually might be worse. There’s evidence that increased carbon dioxide levels plus warmer weather and increased precipitation can cause a pollen-palooza: “This winter’s relatively warm average temperatures, coupled with back-to-back snowstorms, may be an equation for a pollen ‘tsunami’ this month,” New Jersey allergist Dr. Stacey Galowitz told Healthline in April.

The pollen is bound to get worse before it gets better, which means it’s imperative for allergy-prone to monitor pollen maps of your area. Closing windows and showering after being outside has also shown to prevent flare-ups, and there’s also over-the-counter allergy medication.

“When my husband said the pollen’s bad,” read Henderson’s caption to the video. “I probably should’ve taken his word for it. Crazy!” Yeah. Crazy is one word for it.

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