Hay fever season not as bad as normal (yet)

Although hay fever sufferers in Spain might not realise it, the season is not as bad as normal (yet), the only silver lining of the cloud caused by the persistent drought conditions in some areas of the country, and storms in others.

The forecasts of the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC) forecast a milder season than other years on the Mediterranean slope and accumulations of around 1,000 grains of pollen per cubic metre in Barcelona, ​​Palma, Murcia and Tarragona. Something more intense will be in Lleida, where the mathematical models point to accumulations of 2,000 grains/m3.

For its part, the Red Aerobiológica de Catalunya (XAC) of the ICTA-UAB and the Department of Animal Biology, Plant Biology and Ecology of the UAB (BABVE), explained in a statement that the arrival of several storms — Gerard and Fien between January and February, and Juliette in late February — has meant that the flowering levels of cypresses, which are part of the Cupressaceae family, the first troublesome plant of the year, have so far been lower than in 2022. “At the beginning of 2023, winter pollinations of cypress, hazel, ash and alder have been very low, which has delayed the onset of the allergy risk period until recently,” it says in a statement.

The research centre anticipates that this situation of delay will also last for the rest of the season. “Spring pollinations —poplar, banana, pine, parietaria, willow, maple, mulberry, grasses and, later, birch, ceñigo, plantain and olive— will continue the trend of starting with a certain delay, but with strength”, indicates the organisation.

According to the organisation, the delay due to the storms and the cold environment will allow the trees (and especially the cypresses) to accumulate large amounts of pollen, which “could be released suddenly with very high concentration peaks.”

But this year an element breaks the equation, and it is the situation of extreme drought that Catalonia has been experiencing for at least 30 months, as indicated to Verificat by Juan José Zapata, allergist and president of the SEAIC Clinical Aerobiology Committee. “If there is less amount of water, the spring will suffer the decline of the plants”, giving rise to a lower amount of pollen.

This does not mean that the scenario cannot change, because the spring season lasts practically until well into June and this increases the possibility that it could rain, which would totally change the situation. “[Rain] in the short term moistens the pollens […] favouring their deposit in the soil, preventing them from entering the respiratory tract, which reduces the symptoms of allergic patients,” sums up Zapata.

However, in the long term “it favours the growth of all plants, which contributes to an […] increase in pollen production”.

Pollution and climate change

Of the eight million allergic people in Spain, about seven million are allergic to grasses, according to the SEAIC, followed in order by the olive, cypress and plane tree, the last two species being abundant in the city of Barcelona.

In addition, pollution in Barcelona is high, which means that the symptoms of allergy sufferers can be aggravated both by the damage caused by toxic particles on the respiratory tract, and by the change in the structure of pollen as a defence mechanism against pollution, which increases its ability to produce more severe allergies.

To all this is added that the Mediterranean region is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which is another aggravating factor for the symptoms, because the pollen season of some plants is lengthened. The higher concentration of CO₂ can stimulate the growth of certain plants and increase pollen production. For this reason, allergy sufferers should remain vigilant in the coming months: there are still many episodes until the end of the season.

The post Hay fever season not as bad as normal (yet) appeared first on Spain Today – Breaking Spanish News, Sport, and Information.

The post Hay fever season not as bad as normal (yet) first appeared on Spanishvida – Spanish news in English.

Skip to content