, Volume 19, Issue 3-4, pp 191-199

Long-term trends and regional variation in the aeroallergen Alternaria in Cardiff and Derby UK – are differences in climate and cereal production having an effect?

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Abstract

Alternaria is a known aeroallergen, beinga risk factor in childhood and adult asthma.This study compared 1970–1996 daily records ofAlternaria spores in Cardiff and Derby,two very different regions of the UK. There hasbeen a dramatic upward trend in the seasonaltotal for Derby Alternariaspores whereas in Cardiff the trend isdownwards. On certain days in recent yearsDerby Alternaria spore counts haveexceeded 1000 spores per cubic metre of air,but in Cardiff such very high counts have notoccurred since 1970. Derby Alternariaspore levels were most positively correlatedwith wind from the SE (over large stretches ofarable land), whereas in Cardiff the mostpositive correlation was with wind from the north(over grassland). In Derby the increase incereal production, together with highermidsummer temperatures, could account for therising Alternaria counts. This upwardtrend in Derby is expected to continue whereasin Cardiff the coastal position together withthe small amounts of arable production ensureAlternaria spore levels will remain low.The comparison between these two siteshighlights regional differences in the numbersof airborne Alternaria spores andconfirms the importance of maintaining longestablished sites. In Derby these results haveimplications for Alternaria sensitivepatients as very high counts could trigger anasthma attack.