For the 30 million European citizens, who have seasonal allergies, rising pollen counts in the spring bring symptoms that can ruin a time of year the rest of us enjoy immensely.
Allergy symptoms are not only annoying, but for many people interfere with their ability to work, perform at school, or even sleep. Understanding the significance of pollen and fungi spore counts can help to better manage symptoms.
Pollens and fungi represent the clinically most important outdoor allergens. Researchers are interested in pollen and fungus sampling because these airborne allergens occur in easily identifiable units.
Attempts at counting pollens go back over 100 years. Initial investigators collected particles on an adhesive coated slide. However, variables such as wind speed and particle size changed the number of particles coming to rest on a slide, affecting the accuracy of this method.
More recently, researchers have developed volumetric techniques that measure the concentration of pollen grains or fungi spores in the air. This gives them a better estimate of how much pollen people in the sampling area are being exposed to.
The Interest Group on Aerobiology and Pollution has a project and a “dream” to build a project named European Pollens Map, which aim is to provide information on pollens to the members of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), as well as to the public in general and to allergic patients throughout Europe, on the internet.
Our projects needs:
1. Collaboration of all European Allergy National Societies to gather information on:
a. Number of pollen stations in each Country
b. Selection of stations that use pollen samplers with similar characteristics. An ideal air sampler would be of the Hirst type.
c. Amount and type of pollens per weekly period. If this is not feasible, provide at least weekly data in the Spring and monthly data in the remaining months
d. To find an element of functional interlink between the Interest Group on "Aerobiology and Pollution" and each of the scientific societies. Whenever possible this element should be a member of EAACI.
e. To develop an informatics software system, such as a database on Excel format, where each station or each scientific society can upload the data, which will subsequently be added to the EAACI central server.
The EAACI website should have a dynamic tree structure with several pages, each page relating to a different subject, in a modular way to develop:
a. General information on allergies.
b. Data on the effects of pollination and allergies.
c. Characteristics of the allergic diseases that are more frequently related with pollens.
d. Characteristics of each pollen type, cross-reactivity among several species and power to induce allergies..
e. Images of the several types of pollens captured in the atmosphere and their implication in the allergies.
f. Amounts and types of pollens for each Country. Ideally, there should be a map of Europe and, with a simple click on a Country, the software should provide the data on that Country. Considering that each Country has several regional areas with different data, these should be accessible by region.
g. The amounts of pollens should appear in 3 different colours (red, yellow and green, for instance) according to the degree of the patients allergies
h. The levels of severity on pollination will be defined by the scientific committee of the IG group.
i. Information about the meteorological situation, with weather forecasts and weekly periodicity. This should easily work with connection to one of the satellites existent in Europe. .
j. The meteorological data, together with the pollinic data, will provide forecasts for next few days, or next week.
k. Weekly, monthly and yearly graphs showing the different pollen types, and those that more frequently cause allergies. Up to 20 types will be considered. Each pollen type should have its page, with the individual characteristics and statistical data on previous years.
l. Global page with an annual pollen calendar for Europe and for each Country.
m. A Forum area for IG members and other medical institutions should be provided.
n. Contact area through e-mail in each of the Countries integrating the European Network.
Finally we believe we can have some advantages such as:
1. Establishment of functional interlinks among the several European Allergy Societies;
2. Functional Interlinks among the community to share information in the area of the Aerobiology through the Forum;
3. The pages will be generated starting from a database;
4. It is possible to maintain the data obtained through research for subsequent viewing;
5. Technical information service for physicians in general and for allergists in particular
6. Information service for patients in general and for allergic patients in particular;
7. Real-time information for patients with pollinosis regarding the pollen levels in the residence area or in the place where someone intends to travel;
8. Possibility of easy up-grading (ORACLE or Windows).