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Regional and seasonal variation in airborne grass pollen levels between cities of Australia and New Zealand.

Medek-D; Vicendese-D; Jaggard-A; Campbell-B; Johnston-F; Godwin-I; Huete-A; Green-B; Newnham-R; Bowman-D; Newbigin-E; Erbas-B; Beggs-P; Haberle-S; Davies-J
Intern Med J 2013 Sep; 43(S4):7
Introduction: Grass pollens are the major outdoor aeroallergen source for hay fever and allergic asthma in Australia and New Zealand (NZ), but there have been no national assemblages of airborne pollen data for the Australasian region. This study sought to integrate existing datasets from major urban centers and provide the first descriptive synthesis of Australasian aerobiology focused on the clinically-relevant grass pollen. Methods: Pollen count data collected by Burkard or Rotorod volumetric samplers at 8 Australian and 6 NZ urban sites over one to 14 years were assembled. Variability in timing, duration and technique of counting between sites allowed for qualitative assessment and description. Airborne grass pollen counts were analysed for season start, duration, peak, abundance, maximum daily concentration and number of days >20 grains/m3. Results: The maximum daily grass pollen count ranged in Australia from 22 in Darwin to 374 grains/m3 in Melbourne, and in NZ from 45 in Christchurch to 2005 grains/m3 in Gore.The total grass pollen counted per season (or year for Darwin, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney and Hobart) ranged from 687 in Darwin to 6999 grains/m3 in Brisbane, and 783 in Christchurch to 11910 grains/m3 in Gore.The highest number of days with counts >20 grains/m3 ranged in Australia from 16 in Darwin to 93 in Brisbane, and in NZ from 10 in Christchurch to 49 in Gore. For the sites studied, an inverse relationship between pollen season length and latitude was apparent. Except for subtropical Brisbane and tropical Darwin, grass pollen season start and peak date occurred later with increasing distance from the equator. At sites with data from multiple seasons, there was considerable year to year variability: median (interquartile range) daily maximums for Brisbane and Melbourne were 127 (67-160) and 231 (151- 328) grains/m3; and median (interquartile range) total season counts for Brisbane and Melbourne were 4028 (3525-6093) and 3654 (2181-4296) grains/m3. Conclusions: The considerable regional and temporal variability in grass pollen counts between sites and seasons indicates that local, current, standardized pollen counting and reporting would assist with management of allergen exposure for patients at risk of symptom exacerbation due to pollen allergy. ASCIA 2013 Annual Scientific Meeting poster (11-13 September)
Allergens; Bronchial-asthma; Biological-factors; Biological-effects; Samplers; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Statistical-analysis; Demographic-characteristics
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Internal Medicine Journal