, Volume 57, Issue 5, pp 759-768,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Changes in concentration of Alternaria and Cladosporium spores during summer storms

Abstract

Fungal spores are known to cause allergic sensitization. Recent studies reported a strong association between asthma symptoms and thunderstorms that could be explained by an increase in airborne fungal spore concentrations. Just before and during thunderstorms the values of meteorological parameters rapidly change. Therefore, the goal of this study was to create a predictive model for hourly concentrations of atmospheric Alternaria and Cladosporium spores on days with summer storms in Szczecin (Poland) based on meteorological conditions. For this study we have chosen all days of June, July and August (2004–2009) with convective thunderstorms. There were statistically significant relationships between spore concentration and meteorological parameters: positive for air temperature and ozone content while negative for relative humidity. In general, before a thunderstorm, air temperature and ozone concentration increased, which was accompanied by a considerable increase in spore concentration. During and after a storm, relative humidity increased while both air temperature ozone concentration along with spore concentrations decreased. Artificial neural networks (ANN) were used to assess forecasting possibilities. Good performance of ANN models in this study suggest that it is possible to predict spore concentrations from meteorological variables 2 h in advance and, thus, warn people with spore-related asthma symptoms about the increasing abundance of airborne fungi on days with storms.