Combining Public Health and Environmental Science to Develop Pollen Forecasting


New research, wich brings healthcare data together with ground-breaking ecological techniques, could set a roadmap for refining pollen forecasts in the future.

Current pollen forecasts, crucial for people with allergic asthma or hay fever to manage their symptoms, rely on measuring the total load of grass pollen in the atmosphere. However, these do not distinguish between pollen from different types of grass.

Now, a potential link between pollen from certain grass species and respiratory health issues has been revealed.

The results, published in Current Biology, have been produced by the first project to use an ecological biomonitoring method called eDNA (‘environmental DNA’) to explore the relationships between airborne pollen and human health. The research led by Bangor and Exeter Universities is part of the larger PollerGEN (Natural Environment Research Council-funded) research project, which in 2019 established the use of eDNA techniques to identify different types of microscopic grass pollen grains.

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