, 12:185 | Cite as

Analysis of allergens in ambient aerosols: Comparison of areas subjected to different levels of air pollution

  • Georg F. Schäppi
  • Christian Monn
  • Brunello Wüthrich
  • Hans-Urs Wanner


Recent studies describe interactions of pollen surfaces with aerosol particles; pollen surfaces undergo morphological changes and the release of allergens and allergenic fragments from the pollen can be enhanced. Thus allergens from pollen can be found in particle size fractions much smaller than undamaged pollen (<5 μm). This may explain allergic reactions in parts of the lungs which cannot be reached by undamaged pollen. In Switzerland the birch tree (betula verrucosa) major allergen Bet v 1 and the grass (phleum pratense) pollen major allergen Phl p 5 are of particular relevance for inducing pollinosis. In this study aerosols of different aerodynamic diameters were sampled by Andersen-Impactors over 18 months. Sampling areas are subjected to different levels of air pollution (Zürich, Switzerland, urban; Payerne, Switzerland, rural; Davos, Switzerland, alpine). Samples were scanned by electron microscopy and submitted to specific allergen assays (ELISA) for birch pollen major allergen Bet v 1 and grass pollen major allergen Phl p 5 respectively. Particle and major allergen concentrations were highest in Zürich, followed by Payerne and, significantly lower, Davos. Scanning electron microscopy investigations showed interactions of aerosols with pollen surfaces in Zürich and Payerne. The presence of Bet v 1 in smaller aerosol fractions was demonstrated in Zürich and Payerne some weeks before and after birch pollen was counted.


Aerosols Pollen Particle size fractions Bet v 1 Phl p 5 


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Copyright information

© Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georg F. Schäppi
    • 1
  • Christian Monn
    • 1
  • Brunello Wüthrich
    • 2
  • Hans-Urs Wanner
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Hygiene and Applied PhysiologySwiss Federal Institute of TechnologyZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Allergy Unit, Department of DermatologyUniversity HospitalZürichSwitzerland

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