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Thirty-four years of pollen monitoring: an evaluation of the temporal variation of pollen seasons in Belgium

Abstract

For the first time in Belgium, fluctuations in airborne pollen quantities over a 34 years period have been analyzed. Seven pollen types have been selected comprising the most clinically relevant in Belgium nowadays (birch, alder, hazel and grasses) and others that are known to be allergenic in other European countries and frequently found in Belgium (plane, ash and mugwort). Pollen monitoring was performed with a seven-day recording volumetric spore trap placed in Brussels. We measured increasing airborne pollen for four trees, namely alder, hazel, ash and plane. Although the total pollen index for birch has not increased significantly, an increasing trend in the annual amount of days above the concentration threshold of 80 pollen grains/m3 was clearly observed. Concerning temporal variations, the pollen season has tended to end earlier for birch, ash and plane and the peak concentration of the pollen of plane has been appearing earlier in the year. In the investigated period, the pollen seasons of grasses and mugwort have tended to become less severe. Furthermore, we reported a temporal shift of the grass pollen season, beginning and ending earlier, together with an advance of the annual peak date.

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Acknowledgements

The Belgian Aerobiological Surveillance Network is supported by the Public Service of Wallonia, the Province of Luxembourg, Brussels Environment and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health.

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Correspondence to Lucie Hoebeke or Nicolas Bruffaerts.

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Hoebeke, L., Bruffaerts, N., Verstraeten, C. et al. Thirty-four years of pollen monitoring: an evaluation of the temporal variation of pollen seasons in Belgium. Aerobiologia 34, 139–155 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10453-017-9503-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10453-017-9503-5

Keywords

  • Airborne pollen
  • Trends
  • Pollen season
  • Belgium