Pine Tree Pollen Coats the Northeast
Jun. 07, 1999
BOSTON (AP) _ An unusual burst of pine tree pollen has put a dusty greenish-yellow coating on nearly everything in the Northeast, from cars to patio furniture and window sills.
Homeowners have have had to wipe the film off computers, TV screens, book shelves _ anything near an open window. The pollen can squeeze through window screens.
Allergy sufferers will have to cast their blame elsewhere, however. Mold and grass pollen are the prime causes of those sneezes and coughs.
The pollen is coming from the white pine tree. The white pine, so named for the light hue of its wood, is the dominant variety of pine from Maine to the mid-Atlantic, and west to the Great Lakes region.
``I'm sure it has been this bad, but not in the last few years memory,'' said John O'Keefe, coordinator of the Fisher Museum of Forestry in Petersham.
At the moment in the Northeast, the tree is at the height of its pollination season, which lasts two to three weeks each year.
Pollen seasons run in cycles, worsening every three to five years or so. This year's blast of pine pollen has been worsened by the dry weather. Rain usually helps wash the pollen out of the air.
Rain, however, doesn't seem to do much for removing the greenish-yellow film from cars. A little water turns the pollen into a smeary mess.
Business has more than doubled at the Lechmere Autowash Center in Somerville, which washed more than 2,000 cars this weekend alone.
``We've been in business for 30 years and this has been one of the worst for pollen. In translation, it's one of the best for us,'' said owner Vicki Previte.
Maria Vaquez, 31, of Boston, spent part of Monday scrubbing her green 1985 Chrysler Fifth Avenue. ``I just washed this car two days ago and it's dirty again,'' she said with a sigh.