Urbanity as a determinant of exposure to grass pollen in Helsinki Metropolitan area, Finland
Hugg, Timo T.; Hjort, Jan; Antikainen, Harri; Rusanen, Jarmo; Tuokila, Mirkka; Korkonen, Sanna; Weckström, Jan; Jaakkola, Maritta S.; Jaakkola, Jouni J. K. (2017-10-12)
Hugg TT, Hjort J, Antikainen H, Rusanen J, Tuokila M, Korkonen S, et al. (2017) Urbanity as a determinant of exposure to grass pollen in Helsinki Metropolitan area, Finland. PLoS ONE12(10): e0186348. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186348
© 2017 Hugg et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Little is known about the levels of exposure to grass pollen in urban environments. We assessed the spatio-temporal variation of grass pollen concentrations and the role of urbanity as a determinant of grass pollen exposure in the Helsinki Metropolitan area. We monitored grass pollen concentrations in 2013 at 16 sites during the peak pollen season by using rotorod-type samplers at the breathing height. The sites were in the cities of Helsinki and Espoo, Finland, and formed city-specific lines that represented urban-rural gradient. The monitoring sites were both visually and based on land use data ranked as high to low (graded 1 to 8) pollen area. The lowest grass pollen concentrations were observed in the most urban sites compared to the least urban sites (mean 3.6 vs. 6.8 grains/m³ in Helsinki; P<0.0001, and 5.2 vs. 87.5 grains/m³ in Espoo; P<0.0001). Significant differences were observed between concentrations measured in morning periods compared to afternoon periods (4.9 vs. 5.4 in Helsinki, P = 0.0186, and 21.8 vs. 67.1 in Espoo, P = 0.0004). The mean pollen concentration increased with decreasing urbanity both in Helsinki (0.59 grains/m³ per urbanity rank, 95% CI 0.25–0.93) and Espoo (8.42, 6.23–10.61). Pollen concentrations were highest in the afternoons and they were related to the ambient temperature. Urbanity was a strong and significant determinant of pollen exposure in two Finnish cities. Pollen exposure can periodically reach such high levels even in the most urban environments that can cause allergic reactions among individuals with allergies.
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