Just as winter pollens (such as cypress, ash and hazel) have been delayed by the winter cold, preventing plants from starting to release significant amounts of pollen until early March, the springs will also suffer a setback as a result of the recent episode of low temperatures. In neither case is it good news. Trees such as cypress, which have accumulated large amounts of pollen, could now suddenly release it in very high concentration peaks, causing people who have never suffered from allergies to now develop them. Also, between next week and the last week of March, the shade plantain and the parietaria, for example – both of which are spring pollinated and highly allergic – could begin to release significant amounts of pollen len. This is what the researchers of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) predict, who yesterday presented the pollen forecast for spring in Catalonia.
"This winter, with the weather, the plants that pollinate in this season have hardly done so, but they have produced flowers that are now loaded with pollen and that in other years they had been releasing it" , explains to La Vanguardia Jordina Belmonte, ICTA-UAB researcher and head of the Aerobiology Network of Catalonia (XAC). "What can happen - he continues - is that trees like the cypress suddenly release a lot of pollen and there are very important peaks. People who are already allergic will not be harmed by the release of more pollen, because they will already have been affected based on the amount their body reacts to. But, on the other hand, it can happen that those who had never suffered from this allergy, because there will be so much pollen in the air, become allergic". For this reason, he advises these people who are more sensitive to winter plants to "be careful, because this scenario can happen". And what can be done to minimize the symptoms? To begin with, get away, if possible, as far as possible from this type of tree, Belmonte points out. It is also advisable to use masks, "to reduce the amount of allergen that reaches them", as well as sunglasses.
On the other hand, the weather models indicate that the spring will be slightly warmer than usual and that the month of April will be rainy. With this information, the forecast of the levels of pollen and spores in the atmosphere in Catalonia for the coming months by the XAC indicates that the spring pollinations (buckthorn, plantain, pine, parietaria, willow, maple, mulberry trees, grasses and later those of birch, white wheat, large plantation and olive tree) will continue with the tendency to start with a certain delay, but strongly, and could have a shorter duration than usual. "When the temperature is higher, pollinations tend to last less", argues Belmonte. In addition - he continues -, "if it rains in April and it happens during the day, when there is light and the plants emit pollen, the rain would carry it to the ground and remove it from the air". According to the XAC, the most abundant types of allergenic pollen in general in the atmosphere of Catalonia are: cupressaceae (20.8%), such as cypress; the shadow banana (9.7%); oleaceae (8.6%), such as the olive tree; parietaria (5.3%) and grasses (4.3%) and white wheat (2.4%), with significant variations according to the geographical and climatic zones of Catalonia. The spores of the alternaria fungus, despite their impact on allergies, are not the most abundant.