Jeremy sneezed for the umpteenth time, usually in sets of three, as we headed to St. Simons Island for our anniversary get-away Saturday.
Just moments later Avery Kate’s tiny sneezes – also in a set of three – emitted from the back seat of the car.
It’s that time of year.
Golden rod and ragweed blooms along the highways, in the ditches and near the train tracks. My husband, and apparently our daughter, are among those who suffer the most from Fall pollen with itching eyes, a tickle in their throats and those blasted sneezing fits.
Is there any benefit to this nasty pollen that wreaks havocs on the sinuses of millions of Americans every year?
Jeremy would say no. Recent research, however, points to at least one positive – U.S. cities experiencing unusually high pollen counts also experience lower rates of reported violent crime.
That’s according to research published in the Journal of Health Economics.
Looking at daily pollen counts across 16 cities from 2007 to 2016 and crimes reported to local law enforcement that the FBI collects, the authors of this study found violent crime falls 4 percent on high-pollen days. That drop is reportedly about the level of crime reduction that would come with a 10 percent increase in the size of a city’s police force!
Pollen isn’t toxic, and it doesn’t incapacitate folks for long, although my husband might argue otherwise. Surely criminals aren’t deterred by a few sneezes or sinus headache.
The reasons for the observed decrease in crime during high-pollen periods appear not to be neurological, but behavioral, researchers say.
The drop in crime is primarily due to a reduction in residential crime such as domestic violence. Apparently, pollen makes folks tired, more lethargic and less likely to be angry.
With the volatility of this election year and increased tensions over the pandemic, state of the economy and so much more, maybe we should pray for more pollen.
Could Georgia’s gold dust possibly be the answer to world peace?
If pollen makes folks less angry, I’d be inclined to ask the Good Lord for a pollen snowfall. (Just don’t tell my husband).
But, I don’t know if it would be enough to counter the Dawgs’ awful loss to ‘Bama Saturday night – domestic violence rates reportedly increase 10 percent after football losses.
• Sarah Tarr Gove is news editor of The Blackshear Times. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.