This incident quickly sent many into a state of near-panic when photos of vehicles covered in this dust began to appear on social media. Immediately, conspiracy theories began to appear that it was something sprayed using chemtrails or the consequences of some kind of ecological disaster hidden by the authorities.
Sherry Miller of Inwood, West Virginia, says she and her husband were baffled when they saw something out of the ordinary in their driveway. There everything was covered with something white and small, but the weather was too warm for snow.
“We had no idea what it was. It looked like ash. I asked my husband if it was from a wood stove and he said no, because it appeared all over Berkeley County,” Miller said in an interview DC News Now.
As some concerned residents wondered if the strange dust was related to the Feb. 3, 2023 toxic train derailment in Ohio, environmental protection officials were quick to dismiss the rumors.
Specifically, Terry Fletcher, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, said there was no indication that it was related to the crash. The department also collected samples of fallen dust to be analyzed.
Two days later on Monday, February 27, the department announced that the mysterious dust was primarily “pollen with trace minerals.”
The samples were then analyzed by the Department of Geology and Geography of the University of Virginia and the university’s general research center, as it was theorized that they were dust from a recent dust storm in Texas and New Mexico that traveled east through Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky.
Several meteorologists later agreed that it was most likely that the dust that hit West Virginia and Maryland was picked up by the winds from the dust storm and transported to those states.
Many netizens have taken such comments with great skepticism. One in particular stated: “This begs the question, since dust and wind currents are natural phenomena, why does this seem to be the ONLY time this has happened here?”
People were also hooked by the word “pollen” in the EPA’s explanation. “Pollen in February? In the dead of winter?”. “Isn’t the pollen yellow instead of white?” they asked.
Then came conspiracy theories that strange dust had been released by a Chinese balloon before it was destroyed. And that all these days it just slowly fell down from a great height.
“Nothing is blooming here yet and there is no pollen. And why do they use the term ‘conspiracy theory’ for this situation? It is quite reasonable to wonder if the source of the dust is fragments of a chemical bomb that exploded in the state to the west of them! (a hint of disaster in Ohio),” wrote another user.
“Just pollen people. Relax. Because they would never lie to you! Just pollen,” writes another with obvious sarcasm.