Very high level of pollen in Portugal until at least April 20

This high concentration represents a “risk for people allergic to these pollens.”

According to the Portuguese Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SPAIC) pollen bulletin released yesterday, pollen levels in the atmosphere will be very high in mainland Portugal until at least April 20.

This high concentration represents a “risk for people allergic to these pollens” who may develop allergic rhinitis, such as sneezing, tearing and eye complaints, and, eventually, developing asthma, said the secretary general of SPAIC.

“It will not be a risk for the entire population”, but only for those allergic to these pollens, said Pedro Martins.

Children and older people who are allergic “will be more susceptible, but it is a risk that is transversal [to all those allergic to pollen], which can lead to a worsening of the disease and trips to emergency services”, said the specialist in immunology.

As practical recommendations, given the expected high concentrations, Pedro Martins advises allergic people to wear sunglasses when they are outside, to travel by car with the windows closed, to keep clothes worn during the day out of the bedroom, to avoid ventilating the home at times of higher concentration of pollen in the air, such as early morning, and to wear a full face helmet, in the case of motorcyclists.

“If the person has a pollen allergy and knows that they have complaints at this time of spring, they should take a treatment that is prescribed to control their disease and make them more protected for this phase of high pollens”, stressed the SPAIC secretary general.

According to him, the “big peaks” of concentration occur between mid-March and June, when the pollen level in the atmosphere reaches values that “can generate very marked complaints”, but high levels can also appear in autumn.

According to the SPAIC forecast for the week of April 14 to 20, in the region of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, pollens are at a very high level and in the atmosphere, predominate pollens from pine, sycamore, oak and birch and also grassy herbs, parietaria and nettle.

In Porto (Entre Douro and Minho region), pollens from pine, oak and birch trees and grassy weeds, parietaria and nettles predominate, while in Coimbra (Beira Litoral region), there is a very high level of pollen from pine and oak trees and grassy herbs, parietaria and nettle.

The bulletin also indicates that in Castelo Branco (Beira Interior region), pollens are also very high, and pollens from pine and oak trees and grasses, parietaria, nettles, plantain and sorrel dominate the atmosphere.

The document states that in Lisbon and Setúbal, pollen from pine, olive, holm oak and other oak trees predominates, as well as parietal herbs, nettle and plantain.

The predominant pollens in the Alentejo, where very high concentrations are also expected, are holm oak. Still, the first grains of olive trees and grasses, parietaria, nettle, plantain and sorrel, are appearing.

In the Algarve, pollens from cypress, pine, olive, holm oak and other oak trees, parietaria herbs, nettles, plantain, sorrel and chenopodium predominate. While in Funchal (Madeira) and Ponta Delgada (Azores), the SPAIC forecast is for low atmospheric concentration.

In 2002, the Portuguese Aerobiology Network (RPA) was created, a free service provided by SPAIC that monitors, nationwide and continuously, pollen grains and fungal spores in the atmosphere with potentially damaging repercussions on human health.

RPA results from a collaboration between researchers and professors from the Universities of Évora, Madeira and Azores and immunologists from various hospitals nationwide.

Currently, the RPA consists of nine stations or monitoring centres in Porto, Vila Real, Coimbra, Castelo Branco, Lisbon, Évora, Faro, Funchal and Ponta Delgada.