Prediction of annual variations in atmospheric concentrations of grass pollen. A method based on meteorological factors and grain crop estimates


Dr J. Subiza, Calle General Pardiñas 116, 28006 Madrid, Spain.


We performed an aerobiologic observation of the grasses present in Madrid for 14 years (1978–1991), using volumetric air samplers. The counts obtained show that the major grass pollen release period (average daily grass pollen counts >50 grains/m3 of air) occurs in the months of May and June, although lower counts can occur some days from the end of January onward. There are wide year-to-year variations in total atmospheric grass pollen counts, expressed as the total sum of the mean daily concentrations from April 1st to July 30th (ranging from 2568 to 6624). A strong, statistically significant correlation, based on Spearman's rank test and/or simple and multiple linear regressions, was found between the total grass seasonal count and preseasonal rainfall from October to March (R2= 0.64; P= 0.0429). The meteorological variable which gave the correlation with greatest statistical significance (R2= 0.97; P= 0.0016) was the average monthly preseasonal humidity from October to March. A good correlation was also found between March estimates of wheat, rye and barley crops and the total grass count (R2= 0.73; P= 0.006). A model was designed from the above mentioned humidity variable through a multilinear regression analysis, and it was possible to predict, at the beginning of April, total seasonal counts for 1989 (predicted = 5468; actual = 4410; average error = 24%), 1990 (5033; 6090; – 17%)and 1991 (3930; 2568; 53%). These data may help clinicians to predict and prepare themselves for the intensity of the grass pollen season and to explain yearly variations in the severity of symptoms.