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Pollen spectrum and risk of pollen allergy in Central Spain

Pollen spectrum and risk of pollen allergy in Central Spain

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Published by Santiago Sardinero
Pérez-Badia R, Rapp A, Morales C, Sardinero S, Galán C, García-Mozo H: Pollen
spectrum and risk of pollen allergy in central Spain. Ann Agric Environ Med 2010, 17,
139–151.
Abstract: The present work analyses the airborne pollen dynamic of the atmosphere
of Toledo (central Spain), a World Heritage Site and an important tourist city receiving
over 2 millions of visitors every year. The airborne pollen spectrum, the annual dynamics
of the most important taxa, the infl uence of meteorological variables and the risk of
suffering pollen allergy are analysed. Results of the present work are compared to those
obtained by similar studies in nearby regions. The average annual Pollen Index is 44,632
grains, where 70–90% is recorded during February–May. The pollen calendar includes 29
pollen types, in order of importance; Cupressaceae (23.3% of the total amount of pollen
grains), Quercus (21.2%), and Poaceae and Olea (11.5 and 11.2%, respectively), are the
main pollen producer taxa. From an allergological viewpoint, Toledo is a high-risk locality
for the residents and tourist who visit the area, with a great number of days exceeding
the allergy thresholds proposed by the Spanish Aerobiological Network (REA). The
types triggering most allergic processes in Toledo citizens and tourists are Cupressaceae,
Platanus, Olea, Poaceae, Urticaceae and Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae. Allergic risk
increases in 3 main periods: winter (January–March), with the main presence of the Cupressaceae
type; spring, characterized by Poaceae, Olea, Platanus and Urticaceae pollen
types; and, fi nally, late summer (August–September), characterized by Chenopodiaceae-
Amaranthaceae pollen type, which are the main cause of allergies during these months.
Pérez-Badia R, Rapp A, Morales C, Sardinero S, Galán C, García-Mozo H: Pollen
spectrum and risk of pollen allergy in central Spain. Ann Agric Environ Med 2010, 17,
139–151.
Abstract: The present work analyses the airborne pollen dynamic of the atmosphere
of Toledo (central Spain), a World Heritage Site and an important tourist city receiving
over 2 millions of visitors every year. The airborne pollen spectrum, the annual dynamics
of the most important taxa, the infl uence of meteorological variables and the risk of
suffering pollen allergy are analysed. Results of the present work are compared to those
obtained by similar studies in nearby regions. The average annual Pollen Index is 44,632
grains, where 70–90% is recorded during February–May. The pollen calendar includes 29
pollen types, in order of importance; Cupressaceae (23.3% of the total amount of pollen
grains), Quercus (21.2%), and Poaceae and Olea (11.5 and 11.2%, respectively), are the
main pollen producer taxa. From an allergological viewpoint, Toledo is a high-risk locality
for the residents and tourist who visit the area, with a great number of days exceeding
the allergy thresholds proposed by the Spanish Aerobiological Network (REA). The
types triggering most allergic processes in Toledo citizens and tourists are Cupressaceae,
Platanus, Olea, Poaceae, Urticaceae and Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae. Allergic risk
increases in 3 main periods: winter (January–March), with the main presence of the Cupressaceae
type; spring, characterized by Poaceae, Olea, Platanus and Urticaceae pollen
types; and, fi nally, late summer (August–September), characterized by Chenopodiaceae-
Amaranthaceae pollen type, which are the main cause of allergies during these months.

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Published by: Santiago Sardinero on Nov 06, 2012
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ORIGINAL ARTICLES AAEM
INTRODUCTION
The high presence of airborne pollen in central Spain isdue to the large number of anemophilous species in thisarea. Among them it is possible to remark the high con-centrations due to natural species such as
Quercus
,
Popu-lus
, Poaceae, Urticaceae,
 Artemisia
and Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae; to the ornamental species; Cupressaceaeand
Platanus
; or even to crop species such as
Olea
. Thediversity and composition of the pollen spectrum re
ectsthe
ora and the vegetation of an area. For this reason, incities such as Madrid, Toledo and Ciudad Real, all of themlocated in central Spain, the pollen from Cupressaceae,
Populus
,
Quercus
, Poaceae and
Olea
are the most abun-dant in the atmosphere [18, 24, 34]Together with their ecological and agronomic interest,aerobiological studies have a clear clinical interest, espe-cially for allergic patients. Allergies have increased in de-veloped countries during recent years constituting a health-care problem of growing importance. This increase affectsboth the number of affected patients and the severity of al-lergic reactions [7, 30]. Monitoring airborne pollen contentenables identi
cation of the pollen types causing pollinosisin a particular geographical area. This knowledge and the
POLLEN SPECTRUM AND RISK OF POLLEN ALLERGY IN CENTRAL SPAIN
Rosa Pérez-Badia
1
, Ana Rapp
1
, Celia Morales
1
, Santiago Sardinero
1
,Carmen Galán
2
, Herminia García-Mozo
2
1
Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain
2
Department of Botany, Ecology and Plant Physiology, University of Córdoba, Spain
Pérez-Badia R, Rapp A, Morales C, Sardinero S, Galán C, García-Mozo H: Pollenspectrum and risk of pollen allergy in central Spain.
 Ann Agric Environ Med 
2010,
17
,139–151.
Abstract:
The present work analyses the airborne pollen dynamic of the atmosphereof Toledo (central Spain), a World Heritage Site and an important tourist city receivingover 2 millions of visitors every year. The airborne pollen spectrum, the annual dynam-ics of the most important taxa, the in
uence of meteorological variables and the risk of suffering pollen allergy are analysed. Results of the present work are compared to thoseobtained by similar studies in nearby regions. The average annual Pollen Index is 44,632grains, where 70–90% is recorded during February–May. The pollen calendar includes 29pollen types, in order of importance; Cupressaceae (23.3% of the total amount of pollengrains),
Quercus
(21.2%), and Poaceae and
Olea
(11.5 and 11.2%, respectively), are themain pollen producer taxa. From an allergological viewpoint, Toledo is a high-risk local-ity for the residents and tourist who visit the area, with a great number of days exceed-ing the allergy thresholds proposed by the Spanish Aerobiological Network (REA). Thetypes triggering most allergic processes in Toledo citizens and tourists are Cupressaceae,
Platanus
,
Olea
, Poaceae, Urticaceae and Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae. Allergic risk increases in 3 main periods: winter (January–March), with the main presence of the Cu-pressaceae type; spring, characterized by Poaceae,
Olea
,
Platanus
and Urticaceae pollentypes; and,
nally, late summer (August–September), characterized by Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae pollen type, which are the main cause of allergies during these months.
Address for correspondence:
Dra. R. Pérez-Badia, University of Castilla-La Mancha,Institute of Environmental Sciences, Avda. Carlos III s/n. Toledo, 45071, Spain.E-mail: rosa.perez@uclm.es
Key words: aerobiology, atmospheric pollen, meteorology, pollen calendar, pollino-sis, allergy risk.
Received: 5 January 2010Accepted: 31 May 2010
Ann Agric Environ Med 2010, 17, 139–151
 
140
 
Pérez-Badia R, Rapp A, Morales C, Sardinero S, Galán C, García-Mozo H
design of pollen calendars, are essential to reduce the expo-sure of allergic patients to pollen during the days of higherpollen concentration, and enable the development of pre-ventive measures when planning outdoor activities. Pollencalendars offer information about pollen type diversity inthe air, as well as both timing and intensity of the pollenseason [8, 22, 38]. Moreover, continuous monitoring of airborne pollen grains offers us valuable aerobiologicalinformation, being one of the most accurate and valuableindicators on the impact of climate change [3, 14, 16, 17].The scenario of the present work is the city of Toledo,at the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, north-west area of the Autonomous Community of Castilla-La Mancha. Thiswork enhances previous results both analysing pollen andpollinosis in Toledo [18, 28]. The main objectives of thepresent work are to establish an actual pollen calendar, tostudy allergenic pollen types and to establish the in
uenceof meteorological variables on daily pollen concentration,by applying statistical analysis in order to obtain a deeperanalysis of the actual allergy pollen risk, with the aim of informing citizens and tourists on the state and situation of atmospheric pollen content in general and allergenic pollencontent in particular.
MATERIAL AND METHODSArea description.
Toledo is the administrative capitalof the Autonomous Community of Castilla-La Mancha,located at the centre of the Iberian Peninsula (39º 51´ N,4º 01´ W), 529 m above sea level and on the banks of theRiver Tagus. It has around 83,000 inhabitants, was de-clared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, andis an important tourist location receiving over 2 millionsvisitors every year.Bioclimatically, Toledo lies in the Mesomediterraneanbelt, with a dry ombroclimate [39]. Winters are cold andsummers are very dry, with high temperature differencesbetween both. Average annual temperature is 15.4ºC; Julyis the warmest month (average temperature: 26ºC) and Jan-uary is the coldest (average temperature: 6.4ºC). Regardingrainfall, average annual rainfall is 382 mm; October is thewettest month (43 mm) and July is the driest (8 mm) [26].Biogeographically, Toledo is located in the Mediterrane-an Region (W Mediterranean Subregion) and, according toRivas-Martínez
et al.
[39], it is located on the limit betweentwo biogeographical provinces: the Mediterranean CentralIberian Province (Castilian Subprovince, Machean Sector)and the Mediterranean West Iberian Province (Lusitan-Ex-tremadurean Subprovince, Toledan-Taganean Sector).Natural vegetation is represented with holm oak forests(
Quercus rotundifolia
Lam.), shrubs and pasturelands al-ternating with meadows. Junipers (
 Juniperus oxycedrus
L.) and wild olives (
Olea
 
europaea
L. var.
sylvestris
Brot.,
Phyllirea angustifolia
L.) are present in forest undergrowth,and in shrubs and bushes. The presence of the river Tagusenables the existence of riparian vegetation with shrubbywillow vegetation (
Salix
spp.), ash trees of 
Fraxinus an-gustifolia
Vahl, poplars (
Populus
alba L. and
Populus ni-gra
L.), and elms (
Ulmus minor 
Mill.). Crop
elds in theToledo surroundings mainly occupy the Mancha territoryand are cereal and olive crops. Ornamental
ora, frequent-ly highly allergenic, in the parks and gardens of Toledo, isrepresented by elms (
Ulmus pumila
L.), pines (
Pinus ha-lepensis
Mill.), cypresses (
Cupressus sempervirens
L. and
Cupressus arizonica
Greene), olive trees (
Olea
 
europea
 L.), hybrid planes (
Platanus
 
hispanica
Mill. ex Münchh),and glossy privets (
 Ligustrum lucidum
Aiton). Other less-abundant species include mulberry trees, palm trees andcedars. Grasses, nettles, Urticaceae and Chenopodiaceaeare the most characteristic herbaceous species in forest,ruderal and weed
ora.
Airborne pollen and allergy risk.
A Hirst Volumetricspore-trap (Lanzoni model, VPPS 2000) was used for aero-biological sampling. It was installed around 17 m aboveground level, in the campus of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, located in the north-western area of Toledo.The methodological criteria followed for spore-trap place-ment, sampling and sample analysis follows the proposalsof the Spanish Network of Aerobiology [15].Calculation of the Main Pollen Season (MPS) comprisesfrom the day in which 2.5% of total pollen is registered tothe day in which 97.5% of total pollen is registered – i.e., itcollects 95% of total registered pollen. MPS was carried outaccording to the methodology described by Andersen [2].The pollen calendar of Toledo was created accordingto the model proposed by Spieksma [47]. Setting off fromaverage daily concentration (grains/m
3
), 10-day arithmeticmeans are calculated. These means approximately corre-spond to the third part of the month. Subsequently, dataare grouped by following date-equivalence criteria and the10-day arithmetic mean corresponding to the period understudy (2003–2007) is calculated. Graphic representationis performed by matching each mean with one of the 11types of exponential frequency [C: classes, V: values pol-len grains (pg)/m
3
; C1 V: 1–2; C2 V: 3–5; C3 V: 6–11; C4V 12–23; C5 V: 24–43; C6 V: 50–99; C7 V: 100–199; C8V: 200–399; C9 V: 400–799; C10 V: 800–1599; C11 V:1600 or more.], according to Stix & Ferretti [48], and isrepresented in the shape of a histogram. Only pollen typeswith means greater than or equal to 1 grain/m
3
are repre-sented. In the pollen calendar, the different pollen typesare chronologically ordered according to the appearanceof peaks. This structure enables a clear view of the pollenperiods of each of the different taxa throughout the year.The risk of pollen allergy was calculated by the numberof days with different levels of risk of allergy diseasescaused by the pollen of the main important taxa, accordingto the allergy thresholds proposed for the Spanish Aerobi-ology Network (REA) [15]. ‘Moderately allergenic levels’were considered in case herbaceous taxa ranged from 15–30 pg/m
3
(Urticaceae) or 25 to 50 pg/m
3
(Chenopodiaceae-
 
 
Pollen spectrum and allergy risk in Spain
141
Statistical analysis.
To con
rm statistically a possiblerelationship between daily pollen concentrations and thedifferent meteorological parameters, such as rainfall, tem-perature (maximum, minimum and mean), and sunshine, anon-parametric Spearman’s correlation test was performed.A non-parametric correlation analysis was used since thedata are not normally distributed. This test was used in orderto detect the possible signi
cant in
uence of some meteoro-logical variables on the pollen variation during the Pre-Peak period (PP). SPSS 15.0® software package was used.
RESULTSPollen spectrum.
The average annual Pollen Indexobtained in Toledo during the period under study (2003–2007) was 44,632 (Tab. 2). The highest value (56,000) wasrecorded in 2007 and the lowest (29,826) in 2004.During these years, the highest pollen amounts wereregistered between February–May, when annual amountsrange between 70–90% of the whole annual amount(Fig. 1). Average daily concentrations in this period are over1,000 pg/m
3
on some days (Fig. 2), reaching their maximumamount on 1 May 2005 (2,337 pg/m
3
). The month with themaximum annual pollen concentration varies according tothe year (Tab. 2): it was March in 2003 (14,545 pg/m
3
; 34%of total annual pollen) and April in 2004 (6,217 pg/m
3
; 20.8%of total annual pollen), while it was May in the remainderyears (18,103 pg/m
3
, 33.6% of total annual pollen in 2005;14,281 pg/m
3
, 35.1% of total annual pollen in 2006; and15,587 pg/m
3
, 27.8% of total annual pollen in 2007). Theperiod between September–December is that showing thelowest pollen concentration (levels remain below 1% of total annual pollen concentration).The evolution of pollen concentration show the differ-ent peaks reached year by year (Fig. 2 and 3), mainly dueto the pollen contribution of Cupressaceae in February–March,
Quercus
in April, and Poaceae and
Olea
betweenMay–June. From mid- and late June, pollen concentrationsundergo considerable reduction, as no signi
cant peak isobserved. However, small amounts of pollen are present inthe atmosphere from the end of the summer from Chenopo-diaceae-Amaranthaceae species, and the autumn
oweringof 
 Artemisia
and some Cupressaceae species between Oc-tober and December.The most relevant pollen types during this period, in or-der of quantitative importance, are: Cupressaceae (23.3%of the total amount of pollen grains),
Quercus
(21.2%), andPoaceae and
Olea
(11.5% and 11.2%, respectively) (Tab.3), showing wide inter-year variations in total amount,main pollen season, length of the pollen season, and maxi-mum daily values (Tables 3 and 4). To a lesser extent, wehave registered pollen from other species, such as
Populus
 (8.3%),
Platanus
(4.8%),
Pinus
(2.7%) and
Ulmus
(1.9%).Regarding herbaceous species, apart from Poaceae, therestand out the pollen types Urticaceae (5.4%) and Chenopo-diaceae-Amaranthaceae (1.7%). The maximum daily values
Table 1.
Mean Temperatures (ºC) and Rainfall (mm) for each year andseasons from 2003 to 2007.C)Rainfall (mm) SeasonWinter8.276Spring18.5492003Summer26.66Autumn12.9172 
Year 16.5303
 SeasonWinter8.382Spring15.52132004Summer25.727Autumn13.083 
Year 15.6405
 SeasonWinter6.030Spring18.9302005Summer25.95Autumn12.391 
Year 15.8156
 SeasonWinter7.258Spring18.8972006Summer26.817Autumn14.2205 
Year 16.7377
 SeasonWinter8.937Spring15.82432007Summer24.925Autumn11.976 
Year 15.3381
Amaranthaceae, Poaceae). For arboreal taxa, from 25–50pg/m
3
(Ulmaceae) and from 50–200 pg/m
3
for the remain-der species (Cupressaceae,
Olea
, Pinus,
Platanus
,
Populus
 and
Quercus
). The category ‘highly allergenic levels’ wasgiven to cases above these values.
Meteorological data.
The data of the different climaticvariables analysed – maximum, minimum and averagetemperature (ºC); rainfall (mm); maximum, minimum andaverage pressure (mb); evapotranspiration (mm); windspeed (km/s); and sunshine hours – were provided by theToledo-Buenavista meteorological station, located 2 kmfrom the spore trap, through the database of the SpanishState Meteorological Agency (AEMET). Rather irregularinter-annual rainfall patterns were observed along this pe-riod (2003–2007); 2003 and 2005 were the driest years,showing very low rainfall values (303 and 156 mm, respec-tively), remaining far below the average value (382 mm).Regarding temperature, the values have been rather similarin summer and autumn (except a warmer autumn in 2006),and lower values were obtained for spring in 2004 and 2007(15.5–15.8 ºC), and winter in 2005 and 2006 (Tab. 1).

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