Chandigarh now has its first pollen calendar, which can identify potential allergy triggers and provide a clear understanding for clinicians as well as allergy sufferers about their causes to help limit their exposure during high pollen loads.
About 20-30 per cent of the population suffers from allergic rhinitis/hay fever in India, and approximately 15 per cent develop asthma. Pollens are considered major outdoor airborne allergens responsible for allergic rhinitis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis in humans.
“Pollen calendars represent the time dynamics of airborne pollen taxa in graphical form in a particular geographical area. They yield readily accessible visual details about various airborne pollen taxa present throughout the year, with their seasonality in a single picture. Pollen calendars are location-specific, with concentrations closely related to locally distributed flora,” a Science and Technology Ministry release said.
People can have access to the Pollen Calendar of Chandigarh through the website: https://www.care4cleanair.com/champ.
The Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, examined the seasonal periodicities of airborne pollen spectrum to develop the ‘Pollen Calendar’.
Led by Dr Ravindra Khaiwal of the Department, the team also included Professor, and Head of PGIMER’s Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Dr Ashutosh Aggarwal, and Panjab University, Chandigarh, Department of Environment Studies, Chairperson and Associate Professor Dr Suman Mor, along with researchers Akshi Goyal and Sahil Kumar.
The group explored the main pollen seasons, their intensities, variations, and aerobiologically significant pollen types in Chandigarh.
The prominent airborne pollen dominating seasons were spring and autumn, with maximum species surfacing when the phenological and meteorological parameters are considered favourable.
The calendar will help prepare early advisories and disseminate them through media channels to the citizens so that they can use protective gear during the period when the concentration of allergic pollens will be high. It is also a preventive tool for sensitive people to diminish exposure when the levels of aero-pollen are high during specific periods.
The study, supported by the Department of Science and Technology, was recently published in journal Atmospheric Environment.
Khaiwal said that Chandigarh had reported a remarkable increase in forest cover in recent years, and rise in green spaces would also increase airborne pollen, consequently increasing pollen-related allergic ailments.
Mor said: “In this scenario, the study aims to bring airborne pollen seasonal information to the susceptible population, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and scientists to be familiar with the current changes in the environment, which can further help develop mitigation strategies.”
“The findings of this study would enhance the understanding of airborne pollen seasons, which may further help to minimise pollen allergies,” Dr Aggarwal pointed out.