Canberra pollen season predicted to be worse and start early

There will be no respite for Canberra hay fever sufferers this year with The Australian National University’s (ANU) Canberra Pollen project forecasting another nightmare pollen season.

Lead researcher Professor Simon Haberle of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language said all the early signs point to a season of high growth for pollen-producing grass.

“It’s been an above average winter and the satellites are telling us that the greening of South East Australia has already started to kick in,” Professor Haberle said.

“The soil moisture is also high so it looks like it will be a spring with lots of grass growth.

“This is all bad news for hay fever sufferers. We expect pollen levels to be as high as last year.”

The Canberra Pollen program has been so successful, with the app ed more than 6,000 times with more than 3,500 active users, the program is now set to be rolled out nationally thanks to a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

“The idea started in Canberra and Melbourne and is now being extended to Sydney and soon to Brisbane,” Professor Haberle said.

“The four cities will work together this year to give us a better idea of pollen patterns around the country. This should lead to more accurate pollen predictions and ideas for helping reduce the problem.”

This year the Canberra Pollen app has added some new features. Users can now receive daily individualised reports comparing their hay fever symptoms to those of the average Canberran. They can also view a calendar showing which pollen producing plants are flowering in each month of the year.

“We’re getting a better idea of when plants are starting to flower and when they stop,” Professor Haberle said.

“It’s amazing, every month during the year there is some flower that is potential allergenic and people are reacting to it.

“There are definitely peak periods. We know October and November are really strong months for a lot of flowers.”

Professor Haberle said people could use the calendar to work out which flowering plants are causing their allergies.

With the project now in its third year, Professor Haberle said researchers could start to look at ways to reduce pollen in the atmosphere.

“We’ll be able to see if the same hotspots keep turning up and if that’s the case then we’ll really be able to start understanding the underlying environmental factors and try to change the situation,” he said.

More information on pollen can be found here.

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