Ah-Choo! Pollen Blankets The Southeast

man over Pollen on ragweed plant, on texture
AP
The Southeastern United States has been blanketed in pollen during the past week, and allergy sufferers are enduring one of the worst allergy seasons in years.

In Atlanta, the pollen count reached 5,937 particles per cubic meter of air on Thursday. Records kept by the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic show that's the second-highest level it has recorded. In the Southeast, a pollen count of 120 is considered extremely high.

"The other day I felt like I had an elephant on my chest. It was just so heavy and so tight," Atlanta resident Deborah Greene told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

The high pollen counts are due to a lack of rain, which scrubs pollen from the air. Most of the pollen is coming from pine trees.

Allergy sufferers are being advised to limit their outdoor activities during the morning, when pollen is at its worst.

"About 25 to 35 percent of the population, the adult population, has this predisposition to have allergy sensitivities to pollen," allergist Dr. Stanley Fineman told Strassmann.

Allergy specialist Dr. Lisa Hutto told The Associated Press that wearing a mask when doing yard work, as well as changing clothes and showering immediately after coming inside can help reduce allergy symptoms.

The heavy pollen is covering cars, outdoor furniture and porches, but Hutto says people shouldn't use a garden hose to remove it.

"Washing the pollen off could cause it to become airborne, and you could have more exposure. Even if you hose off your porch or car, it's just going to come back," Hutto said.