Drought causing increase in allergies

news: Drought causing increase in allergies

Experts predict a sharp increase in cases of pollen allergy in Portugal owing to the drought.

Researchers at the Sociedade Portuguesa de Alergologia e Imunologia Clinica (SPAIC), the Portuguese Society of Allergies and Clinical Immunology, warned recently that the present conditions of prolonged drought are almost certain to lead to a dramatic increase in cases of pollen allergy. Furthermore, symptoms are likely to be more severe than in previous years. According to allergies’ specialist Carlos Nunes, when it rains pollen tends to fall to the ground and remain there meaning there is much less pollen in the air for people to inhale. However, during periods of drought, the situation is reversed with much higher concentrations of pollen hanging in the air. In addition, the plants themselves tend to produce more pollen than usual in an attempt to increase the chances of survivalin adverse climactic conditions – this is particularly the case with grass-like species.

According to recent figures released by the Rede Portuguesa de Aerobiologia (RPA), the Portuguese Aerobiology Network, pollen counts are highest in the south of the country in the Algarve region. Already pollen concentrations are much higher than those recorded a year ago – a fact made all the more significant with the Algarve registering record levels of olive tree pollen during 2004; over 500 grains per cubic metre. Allergic symptoms can be triggered at levels of only 30-40 grains per cubic metre.

This year, for the first time, RPA are making weekly predictions as to the likely pollen count gleaned from data collected by equipment located at five areas around Portugal: Porto, Coimbra, Lisbon, Èvora and Portimão. Figures for this week show Alentejo on a ‘Yellow Alert’ and Algarve on full ‘Red Alert’ with ‘highly elevated’ levels of olive and grass pollen.

Those suffering from pollen allergies are advised to check the RPA website weekly and, during times of high level forecast, are recommended to keep windows closed and, during outings, to favour coastal locations over those inland.

Weekly pollen counts are available at the RPA website; www.rpa.uevora.pt

For information on how to cope with allergies see The Resident Prescription.