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The Secret Life of Pollen: 7 Surprising Facts about Florida's Allergy Menace

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | Apr 20, 2015

Pollen SecretsIt’s springtime in Florida, or as we like to call it, “yellow season.” 

Many Floridians dread the annual return of pollen season, and with it, the yellow or yellowish-brown pollen that blankets cars and sidewalks. Pollen season also causes the dramatic rise of sneezing-and-sniffling cases across the Sunshine State.

But there’s a lot more to pollen than what meets the eye. Take a look at these seven surprising facts about Florida’s allergy menace…

Fact #1: Who’s Really to Blame? Unseen Pollen is the Real Culprit

Despite popular belief, the yucky yellow pollen covering our cars, outdoor patios and sidewalks is not responsible for those annoying springtime allergies. Instead, the widespread increase in springtime sniffles can be attributed to microscopic pollen produced by cedar and oak trees.

Fact #2: The Beach is a Pollen Paradise

While beaches typically have lower pollen counts than inland, they’re far from pollen-free. According to WebMD, pollen-producing grasses often grow near the coast, and ragweed pollen, one of the worst allergy menaces, has been spotted as far as 400 miles deep in the ocean.

Fact #3: Bee Pollen is Good for You

While pollen is often considered a nuisance, it’s not entirely bad… Bee pollen, for example, is highly rich in proteins, contains more amino acids than beef, eggs or cheese, and offers several surprising health benefits.

Fact #4: Pollen Population is on the Rise

When it comes to springtime pollen, don’t plan on catching a break anytime soon. According to a report released by the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, pollen counts gradually rise every year, and are expected to double by 2040. This exponential pollen growth can be attributed to several factors including economic growth, global environment sustainability and temperature.

Fact #5: April Showers Bring May Flowers… AND More Pollen

When it comes to pollen, rain is our best AND worst friend. While rain helps wash away pollen on the ground and in the air, it also promotes plant growth, which in effect, increases pollen production. Even worse, storm winds can blow pollen particles into the air, spreading them miles away from their birthplace.

Fact #6: Unless You’re a Florist or Frequent Gardener, “Pretty” Flowers are Harmless

Unlike the lightweight, almost invisible pollen produced by grass and trees, pollen produced by flowering plants like roses, is large, heavy, waxy, and spread by insects, not the wind. Because of this, the average person has very little contact with flower pollen, and is unlikely to develop allergies to it.

Fact #7: When It Comes to Pollen Count, Florida is Not That Bad

Despite how awful pollen season may seem in Florida, we’re pretty well off compared to some states. According to "The Most Challenging Places to Live with Spring Allergies" report released by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America last year, the top three worst cities were Louisville, KY, Memphis, TN and Baton Rouge, LA. Florida didn’t even rank in the top 25.