While many New Zealanders are welcoming the end of cold winter weather, others are not so happy, as warm temperatures and spring winds bring the pollen clouds that can trigger hayfever.
Chris Masterson from home ventilation company, HRV says their staff around the country are already seeing calls from people wanting ways to keep the pollen out.
“During winter, we’re all about drying out the home,” he says, “but this time of year it’s like flicking a switch and people want to know about air filtration.”
Those piles of yellow dust on your car are a big issue this time of year, says Chris.
“Even if you live nowhere near a pine forest, this stuff really travels. We’re seeing it in the middle of cities miles from the nearest pine tree.”
He says the filters in home ventilation systems catch many of the particles that get up allergy sufferers’ noses, including the most visible pollen right now – pine.
An HRV contractor snapped the accompanying picture near Raglan in August. What looks like a yellow cloud is really the pollen from thousands of trees being carried on the wind.
And just how bad is New Zealand’s allergy problem? Mark Dixon, CEO of Allergy NZ estimates over a million Kiwis start reaching for the tissues at this time of year, with pine pollen signalling the arrival of our allergy season in early spring.
Climate change could also be part of the problem, says Mark. Some overseas studies suggest that when exposed to warmer temperatures and higher levels of CO2, plants grow more vigorously and produce more pollen than they otherwise would.
And the cure? Short of medication, which can be effective in extreme cases, Mark recommends staying indoors on windy spring days, especially in the morning, when most plant species release their pollen.
Keeping windows shut and relying on a ventilation system with an effective filter will make sure the fresh air comes in, and the pollen invasion stays out.
BEATING THE POLLEN INVASION:
- Stay indoors on windy spring days – mornings especially
- Consider home ventilation with a high-quality filter
- If you’re feeling really unwell, see a doctor