Friday, September 17, 2021

Chandigarh gets its first pollen calendar

The city of Chandigarh now has its first pollen calendar, which may identify probable allergy triggers and provide clinicians and allergy sufferers with a comprehensive understanding of their origins, helping them to restrict their exposure during high pollen loads.

Benefits of the calendar?

In India, around 20-30% of the population suffers from allergic rhinitis/hay fever, and approximately 15% develop asthma. In humans, pollen is a major outdoor airborne allergen that causes allergic rhinitis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis. Pollen calendars are graphical representations of the time dynamics of airborne pollen taxa in a certain geographic area.

They provide easy-to-understand visual information on diverse airborne pollen species that are present throughout the year, as well as their seasonality, in a single image. Pollen calendars are location-specific, with concentrations strongly tied to the flora found in the area.

Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER of Chandigarh has examined the seasonal periodicities of airborne pollen spectrum and created the city’s first Pollen Calendar. A team led by Dr. Ravindra Khaiwal of the Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health at PGIMER, Chandigarh, made this possible with several other participants. The study is supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) which was recently published in the Atmospheric Environment, a journal by Elsevier.

This will help in the preparation of early cautions and advisories to disseminate them to the citizens through media channels so that they can use protective gear during the period when the concentration of allergic pollen is high. It can also be used as a preventative technique for sensitive people to reduce their exposure when levels of aero-pollen are high at certain times.

In Chandigarh, the team explored the main pollen seasons, their intensities, fluctuations, and aero biologically relevant pollen species. The study brought out the first pollen calendar for the city, providing up-to-date information, highlighting the variability of the seasonal pollen species. Spring and fall were the most significant pollen-dominating seasons, with maximum species appearing when phenological and climatic conditions are favourable for the growth of pollen grain and its dispersion and transmission.

Reason for increase in pollen-related allergic ailments:

Dr. Ravindra Khaiwal, the lead investigator, said that Chandigarh had reported a remarkable increase in forest cover in recent years, and rise in green spaces would also increase airborne pollen, consequently increasing pollen-related allergic ailments.

“In this scenario, the project aims to bring airborne pollen seasonal information to the susceptible population, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and scientists to be familiar with the current environment changes, which can further help develop mitigation strategies,” said Dr. Suman Mor.

Dr. Ashutosh Aggarwal pointed out that the findings of this study would enhance the understanding of airborne pollen seasons, which may further help to minimize pollen allergies.

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