ROANOKE, Va. – As warmer temperatures hang around, millions of Americans are experiencing what's being called an allergy explosion. And it's not just our bodies that are suffering-- pollen on the hood of our cars can lead to long-term damage as well.
We've seen a spike not only in the number of people suffering from seasonal allergies this spring, but in how long that pollen is expected to hang around as well. Experts say climate change may be to blame.
A video that's quickly gone viral over the last week shows just how problematic the pollen has been this year. When a backhoe taps a tree in New Jersey, the yellow pollen explodes into the air.
While the video was taken to our north, this is an issue we're seeing nationwide including here at home where Richmond has been named the 16th worst city for people with allergies nationwide.
Researchers say the ragweed pollen season has increased by as many as 27 days since 1995, with warmer temperatures caused by climate change leading to longer growing seasons and a more intense release of pollen.
Extra pollen can not only cause issues with sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes, but can lead to permanent damage to our property as well.
Ken Hash, a local paint expert and franchisee with Colors on Parade, says all of that extra pollen sitting on the hoods or roof of our cars can lead to lasting damage.
"The paint is made to protect your car, so when you've got a foreign matter on there, it's going to prohibit the paint from doing that," says Hash. "Pollen is bad and bird mess, that's really bad. You want to get that off almost immediately."
If left to sit on the car too long, pollen can lead to stain marks in the paint and even rust. Pine pollen, which we see a lot of in southwest Virginia, is acidic and when mixed with high humidity, it can start to oxidize the finish and eat away the paint job.
Hash says his best advice is to get the pollen off your car and do it as often as possible this spring.
"It's almost like you want to get out there every morning before you leave for work with a garden hose and rinse the car down," he said. "That would be very helpful if you can do that, but it's kind of impractical. At least a couple of times a week try to rinse it off and one good washing every week would be beneficial."
Experts say to use water to get the pollen off, not just wipe it off with a micro-fiber cloth or a dry rag because dry pollen will lead to tiny scratches and swirls in the paint.
Hash says it's also important to give your car a really good wash and a thick coat of wax early in the spring. He says that won't prevent the pollen from sticking to your vehicle but will help to better protect your paint and makes it easier to get the pollen off when it's time for a wash.