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The Connection between Air Pollution and Hay Fever

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The Connection between Air Pollution and Hay Fever

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Apr 15, 2021

According to the National Pollen Research Unit, increases in air pollution in towns and cities is likely to cause the number of people with Hay Fever in the UK to double over the next 20 years.  This means that by 2040, around half of the population will suffer seasonal allergies as a result of pollen.

Why Air Pollution Affects Hay Fever Sufferers

While there are currently moves underway to reduce the presence of fossil fuel burning engines in towns and cities, these will take many years to have a significant effect and until then, fumes from vehicles will continue to build up in urban areas.

Pollution from vehicles creates a “photochemical smog” in towns that traps pollen at ground level and prevents it from escaping.  This increases the concentration of the allergens in places where they can be inhaled and as a result means that more people will be affected.

Higher concentrations of pollen means that people who currently only have mild hay fever will find that their symptoms are more severe. 

Reading the Pollen Count

High levels of pollution concentrate pollen levels at low levels.  This can be a problem when reading the forecast.  Typically, pollen is measured by capturing it in traps located on buildings.  These are normally placed on the second or third floor of buildings.

The pollen count is the number of pollen grains that are found in a cubic metre of air.  The count ranges from Low (fewer than 30 grains of pollen per cubic metre of air) up to Very High (more than 150 grains of pollen per cubic metre of air).  On days with high pollution, the pollen count on the weather forecast may under report the actual concentration of pollen in the air and sufferers may not be well prepared.

The Symptoms of Hay Fever

Anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies will be familiar with Hay Fever.  Itchy eyes, runny noses, painful blocked sinuses, and headaches are common with the condition.  During the peak season of Hay Fever from March until October, sufferers may find that their symptoms affect sleep, work and studying, and can make the summer miserable.

Taking antihistamines can help to reduce symptoms, and many sufferers will wear sunglasses to protect their eyes, or even avoid going outside during the peak season if the pollen count on a particular day is forecast to be high.

Avoiding the Problems of Hay Fever

For people who live in a city and suffer from hay fever outdoors, it is important to be able to find some respite from high pollen levels.  Living in an urban area often means keeping doors and windows closed at all times to avoid street noise.  This can lead to a build up of allergens including pollen indoors because of poor air flow.

Positive Input Ventilation Systems (PIV) are ideally suited to cities.  They draw air in through a filter system that removes pollen and other particles that can cause allergies and then gently circulate fresh, clean air through a building.

These systems help to reduce the number of allergens present in their air and contribute to better respiratory health as a result.  Ventilation systems also reduce condensation and damp.

If you or a member of your household suffers from Hay Fever and you want to reduce your symptoms, contact us today to book a free home survey and our local specialist will provide advice and support about what can be done to improve your indoor air quality.


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