, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 239-246
Date: 18 Jan 2011

Allergenicity of the ornamental urban flora: ecological and aerobiological analyses in Córdoba (Spain) and Ascoli Piceno (Italy)

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Abstract

Comparative ecological and aerobiological analyses of ornamental urban flora in the cities of Córdoba (Spain) and Ascoli Piceno (Italy) identified a group of plants with allergenic pollen whose behaviour is influenced by a number of factors. The geographical position and the resulting climate of both cities favoured the presence of Mediterranean species. In Córdoba, strongly allergenic evergreens introduced during the Moorish period predominated (Cupressus sempervirens, among others), while in the urban area of Ascoli Piceno, Pinaceae were abundant. In both cities, many species of American origin have been introduced for aesthetic reasons, contributing to an increase in the overall allergenicity of urban greenery. The pollen spectrum differed between the two cities: airborne Oleaceae and Cupressaceae pollen abounded in Córdoba, whilst allergenic pollen from surrounding natural environments (Corylaceae) predominated in Ascoli Piceno. These results pointed to a large number of potentially allergenic species in cities, thus highlighting the importance of greater ecological and aerobiological knowledge of allergenic species of urban ornamental flora. Avoidance of more allergenic species when planning new urban green areas could ensure healthier environments for pollen-allergy sufferers.