This allergy season has been worst in Brisbane as the city is suffering from four-folds higher pollen allergy ever recorded in whole Australia for the last four months. A professor from QUT’s Allergy Research Group, Professor Janet Davies has revealed this during a federal parliamentary inquiry earlier this week.
Prof. Davis heads QUT’s Allergy Research Group and also the AusPollen network. AusPollen Network works on the concentration of pollen and releases forecasts for the citizens as a safety measure from allergy attacks. This week, Professor Davis was invited at a public hearing of the inquiry into allergies and anaphylaxis which was organized by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport.
The purpose of this inquiry was to study the support factors for public who are struggling with allergies and chronic cases of anaphylaxis. The report said that after Christmas Eve, the pollen concentration has been getting higher and the only time it was recorded low was during heavy rainfall.
Professor Davis said;
“Pollens from flowering grasses are the major outdoor trigger of hayfever and allergic asthma, and these conditions affect the health, wellbeing, and productivity of more than 19 percent of Australians.”
She added; “People with hayfever are also susceptible to thunderstorm asthma, a severe episode of which in Victoria in 2016 resulted in 10 deaths and around 10,000 people taken to hospital.”
On answering whether or not these results were compared with the cases from past, she replied that; “We have been monitoring pollen levels from the Brisbane site at Rocklea for the past five years, and we also have access to data on pollen levels at the same site in the 1990s for comparison.
“We can see that there has been a shift over the years in the magnitude and timing of the Brisbane pollen season. It is starting later, lasting longer and we are seeing persistently higher pollen concentrations in the air.”
AusPollen has been funded by The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and this partnership was established in 2016 as a standardized monitoring scheme for pollen concentration. This program has now expanded to 25 monitoring sites all of which are associated with numerous researches across Australia. It is helpful as it provides the local information on daily bases which is essential to establish an average pollen concentration.
This information is available for free for all public and can be accessed by phone apps and websites such as www.brisbanepollen.com.au.
This program is an effort to promote public awareness of pollen and how to manage a life with seasonal allergies. Prof. Davis said;
“This pollen season has been particularly severe, with the very late wet season delaying the onset, and we expect to be monitoring pollen levels through to May.”
As to her, the current users of this app are exceeding 1 million people, majorly from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra in Australia.
The researchers at AusPollen are currently working on metrics to predict the changing frequency of pollen concentrations and taking feedback from people who access this information through the phone app. Right now they have obtained information from nearly 4000 users of phone app through a survey.
This feedbacks would help to improve service and provide better control over allergy symptoms and plan their activities accordingly.