Pollen-related allergy in Europe*

Authors


  • *

    This Position paper was prepared by the EAACI Subcommittee on “Aerobiology and Environmental Aspects of Inhalant Allergens”. Steering Committee of this Subcommittee: G. D'Amato (Chairman), S. Jäger (Secretary), F. Th. M. Spieksma, H. Kauffman, A. Peeters, G. Liccardi.

Gennaro D'Amato, MD Divisione di Pneumologia ed Allergologia Dip.di Malattie Respiratorie Ospedale “A. Cardarelli” via RioneSirignano 10 l-80131 Naples Italy

Abstract

The increasing mobility of Europeans for business and leisure has led to a need for reliable information about exposure to seasonal airborne allergens during travel abroad. Over the last 10 years or so, aeropalynologic and allergologic studies have progressed to meet this need, and extensive international networks now provide regular pollen and hay-fever forecasts. Europe is a geographically complex continent with a widely diverse climate and a wide spectrum of vegetation. Consequently, pollen calendars differ from one area to another; however, on the whole, pollination starts in spring and ends in autumn. Grass pollen is by far the most frequent cause of pollinosis in Europe. In northern Europe, pollen from species of the family Betulaceae is a major cause of the disorder. In contrast, the mild winters and dry summers of Mediterranean areas favor the production of pollen types that are rarely found in central and northern areas of the continent (e.g., the genera Parietaria, Olea, and Cupressus). Clinical and aerobiologic studies show that the pollen map of Europe is changing also as a result of cultural factors (e.g., importation of plants for urban parklands) and greater international travel (e.g., the expansion of the ragweed genus Ambrosia in France, northern Italy, Austria, and Hungary). Studies on allergen-carrying paucimicronic or submicronic airborne particles, which penetrate deep into the lung, are having a relevant impact on our understanding of pollinosis and its distribution throughout Europe.

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