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Keywords:

  • airway hypersensitivity;
  • allergenic pollens;
  • allergic asthma;
  • allergic rhinitis;
  • bronchial asthma;
  • outdoor air-pollution;
  • pollinosis;
  • respiratory allergy;
  • seasonal allergy

The allergenic content of the atmosphere varies according to climate, geography and vegetation. Data on the presence and prevalence of allergenic airborne pollens, obtained from both aerobiological studies and allergological investigations, make it possible to design pollen calendars with the approximate flowering period of the plants in the sampling area. In this way, even though pollen production and dispersal from year to year depend on the patterns of preseason weather and on the conditions prevailing at the time of anthesis, it is usually possible to forecast the chances of encountering high atmospheric allergenic pollen concentrations in different areas.

Aerobiological and allergological studies show that the pollen map of Europe is changing also as a result of cultural factors (for example, importation of plants such as birch and cypress for urban parklands), greater international travel (e.g. colonization by ragweed in France, northern Italy, Austria, Hungary etc.) and climate change. In this regard, the higher frequency of weather extremes, like thunderstorms, and increasing episodes of long range transport of allergenic pollen represent new challenges for researchers.

Furthermore, in the last few years, experimental data on pollen and subpollen-particles structure, the pathogenetic role of pollen and the interaction between pollen and air pollutants, gave new insights into the mechanisms of respiratory allergic diseases.